62. As the term is used in the law of contract, it means a "valuable"
consideration; that is, something having value in the eye of the law. It may consist either in "some right, interest, profit, or benefit accruing to one party, or some forbearance, detriment, loss, or responsibility given, suffered, or undertaken by the other."
The law requires every simple contract to be based on what it deems a valuable consideration. We shall take up in turn the different forms which consideration may assume, and explain at length what is deemed a consideration.1 At the outset, however, it will be well to explain in a general way what we mean when we speak of the consideration for a promise. Consideration means that which moves from the promisee, or to the promisor, at the latter's request, in return for his promise. Consideration "is something done, forborne, or suffered, or promised to be done, forborne, or suffered by the .promisee in respect of the promise." 2 If, for instance, one man, by paying another a sum of money, procures a promise from the latter in return to do something for his benefit, the money paid is the consideration for the promise. Consideration, however, need not be the payment of money. As usually defined, it may consist "in some right, interest, profit, or benefit accruing to one party, or some forbearance, detriment, loss, or responsibility given, suffered, or undertaken by the other;"3 provided, however, the benefit conferred or detriment suffered is deemed of value in the eye of the law.4 Strictly speaking, however, the accrual of a right or benefit to the promisor is not necessary to establish a consideration, and the one essential test in all cases is that of forbearance, detriment, or responsibility suffered or undertaken by the promisee.5
1 For the history of consideration, the student should read Anson, Cont. (8th Ed.) 43; Poll. Cont 179; Holmes, Com. Law, 253-271, 284-287. 2 Anson, Cont (8th Ed.) 74.
If a person does work for another on the latter's express or implied promise to pay for it, or gives another permissionto use his property in return for a promise, or gives up his right to sue another, on the latter's promise to pay money or do some other act, there is in each case either a benefit accruing to the promisor, or a detriment suffered by the promisee, or both; and this is the consideration for the promise. So, also, if a person promises another to do something on the latter's promising him to do something, as where one man promises another to sell him goods, and the promisee promises to buy them, and pay for them, a right is conferred by each to the benefit of the other's promise, and a responsibility is undertaken by each. The promise of each is the consideration for the promise of the other.6
The fact that the benefit conferred or detriment suffered is slight does not render it any the less a valuable consideration.7 The naming of a child after a person will support his promise to pay a large sum of money.8
3 Currie v. Misa, L. R. 10 Exch. 162. See, also, Bainbridge v. Firmstone, 8 Adol. & E. 743; Handrahan v. O'Regan, 45 Iowa, 298; Devecmon v. Shaw, G9 Md. 199, 14 Atl. 464, 9 Am. St. Rep. 422; HAMER v. SIDWAY, 124 N. Y. 538, 27 N. E. 256, 12 L. R. A. 463, 21 Am. St Rep. 693, Throckmorton Cas. Contracts, 100; Byrne v. Cummings, 41 Miss. 192; Day v. Gardner, 42 N. J. Eq. 199, 7 Atl. 365; Wolford v. Powers, 85 Ind. 294, 44 Am. Rep. 16; Sanders v. Carter, 91 Ga. 450, 17 S. E. 345; Dorwin v. Smith, 35 Vt. 69; Train v. Gold. 5 Pick. (Mass.) 3S0; Emerson v. Slater, 22 How. 43, 16 L. Ed. 360; Taylor v. Williams, 120 Ind. 414, 22 N. E. 118; Marshalltown Stone Co. v. Manufacturing Co., 114 Iowa, 574, 87 N. W. 496; Gunther v. Gunther, 181 Mass. 217, 63 N. E. 402; Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions v. Smith, 209 Pa.
361, 58 Atl. 689. And see the old cases of Traver v. --------- (1667) 1 Sid. 57;
Paynter v. Chamberlyn (1639) 1 Rolle, Abr. 22; Hawes v. Smith (1675) 2 Lev. 122. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) §§ 50-52; Cent. Dig. §§ 222-224.
4 Post, p. 140.
5 Henry v. Dussell, 71 Neb. 691, 99 N. W. 484. And see Pollock, Cont. 166; HAMER v. SIDWAY, 124 N. Y. 538, 27 N. E. 256, 12 L. R. A. 463, 21 Am. St. Rep. 693, Throckmorton Cas. Contracts, 100. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) §§ 50-52; Cent. Dig. §§ 222-224.
6 Funk v. Hough, 29 111. 145; Earle v. Angell, 157 Mass. 294, 32 N. E. 164. And see post, p. 145. See "Contracts," Dec, Dig. (Key-No.) § 56; Cent. Dig. §§ 344-353.