Lampleigh v Brathwait – Case Summary

Lampleigh v Brathwait

High Court

Citations: (1615) Hobart 105; (1615) 80 ER 255.


The defendant had been convicted of murder. He requested the claimant’s help in obtaining a pardon from the King. The claimant expended considerable effort and expense in doing so. A pardon was granted. Afterwards, the defendant promised to pay the claimant a sum of money as a reward. The defendant never paid, and the claimant sued.

The claimant argued that the defendant was bound by contract to pay for his services. The defendant responded that consideration had not been given for his promise to pay – the claimant’s services did not count as they were past acts.

  1. Could the claimant’s past services be relied on as consideration for the defendant’s promise to pay?

The Court held in favour of the claimant. The past services were valid consideration because they were requested by the defendant.

This Case is Authority For…

Where a defendant’s promise is prompted by acts done by the claimant at the defendant’s request, those acts may be consideration even though they occurred in the past.


This case also states that where a promise is conditional on another contractual obligation being performed, the claimant cannot sue to enforce the promise until the condition is met.