Roscorla v Thomas – Case Summary

Roscorla v Thomas

High Court

Citations: (1842) 3 QBR 234; 114 ER 496.


The claimant agreed to buy a horse from the defendant. The defendant later falsely promised that the horse as ‘free from vice’. The claimant sued the defendant for breach of his promise. The defendant argued that the promise was not a term of any contract because the claimant had not provided any consideration for it.

  1. Had the claimant provided good consideration for the promise that the horse was free from vice?

The Court held in favour of the defendant. The claimant had already agreed to buy the horse. He could not rely on his obligations under that contract as consideration for the defendant’s later promise. The promise was therefore unenforceable.

This Case is Authority For…

Existing or past obligations cannot be relied on as consideration for new promises.