Mountford v Scott
Court of Appeal
Citations:  Ch 258;  2 WLR 114;  1 All ER 198; (1975) 29 P & CR 401; (1974) 118 SJ 755;  CLY 3533.
The defendant granted the claimant a six-month option to buy his house for £10,000. The claimant gave £1 as consideration. The defendant purported to withdraw the option before the six-month period expired. Despite this, the claimant later attempted to exercise the option. When the defendant refused to sell, the claimant sued for specific performance. The defendant responded that the claimant had not given adequate consideration, so the option was unenforceable.
- Had the claimant provided good consideration for the option?
The Court of Appeal held in the claimant’s favour. Since the adequacy of consideration is not relevant to whether it is valid, £1 was good consideration for the option. The defendant’s attempt to withdraw the option was invalid, and so the claimant could still exercise it. The claimant was therefore entitled to specific performance of the agreement.
This Case is Authority For…
Consideration does not need to be adequate to be valid.
An option is an offer which is irrevocable for the duration of its terms. If the other party exercises the option, this constitutes an acceptance of the offer. This gives rise to a binding contract of sale.
An validly-created option also creates an equitable interest in the land over which it is exercisable. This does not necessarily require consideration (for example where the option is created by deed).
The fact that the claimant only provided token consideration was deemed irrelevant to whether the remedy of specific performance was available. Someone who provides token consideration is not considered a ‘volunteer’ for the purposes of the equitable maxim ‘equity will not assist a volunteer’.