The notion of “consideration” under Common law
In connection with contracts, consideration is the technical term for “the act, forbearance, or promise by which one party to a contract buys the promise of the other” (Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage). It is also called a “quid pro quo” (something for something). The equivalent in German is Gegenleistung, in French contre-prestation. Normally, such consideration must have some economic value and is thus referred to as valuable consideration. In the common law, contracts that do not include a provision for consideration are not considered valid, the fundamental principle is “no contract without consideration”.
Examples of use:
- Payment was made as consideration for delivery of the goods.
- The contractor agreed to the offered consideration.
- The client agrees to pay the total consideration upon delivery of the project.
- The estate is bound to convey the property upon full payment of the consideration.
(N.B.: good consideration is not the same as valuable consideration: good consideration is something given out of affection or moral obligation, not because of a contractual obligation; a contract is valid only if the consideration is valuable.)
In other, non-contractual contexts, the word consideration can be used in legal writing also in the non-technical sense of “careful thought”, a “factor taken into account when making a decision” or “sensitivity towards others”:
- We will give the matter our fullest consideration.
- The court set forth the considerations that contributed to its decision.
- Employers should show consideration towards their employees and treat them with respect.