Collins v Godefroy – Case Summary

Collins v Godefroy

High Court

Citations: (1831) 1 Barnewall and Adolphus 950; 109 ER 1040.


Godefroy brought an action against a third-party. He obtained a subpoena against Collins to appear as a witness. Godefroy then offered to pay Collins six guineas if he agreed to attend. This was standard practice at the time. Collins did not respond. He attended court, but was ultimately not required to give evidence. Collins then demanded that Godefroy pay him six guineas.

Godefroy refused, arguing that there was no binding contract between them because:

  • Collins had never accepted Godefroy’s offer; and
  • Collins was already legally bound to attend court. As such, Collins provided no consideration for the offer.
  1. Had Collins accepted Godefroy’s offer?
  2. Had Collins provided consideration for Godefroy’s promise to pay him 6 guineas?

The High Court held in favour of Godefroy. Collins could not rely on his court attendance as consideration. This was because he was already legally bound to provide that service. In any case, Collins could not rely on the offer because he had failed to accept it.

This Case is Authority For…

A person cannot rely on a promise to perform their existing legal duties as consideration.