1

The Merritt v Merritt case is often used in teaching Contract Law for demonstrating one of the six elements of contract — intention to create legal relations (the parties had been separated and the agreement was in writing which demonstrated the intention to create legal relations).

What, however, puzzles me is that one of the other essential elements of contract — consideration — does not appear evident in this case: Mr. Merritt agreed to pay monthly allowance and to eventually transfer the house to Mrs. Merritt. But what did Mr. Merritt get in return?

The judge said:

... Next he said that there was no consideration for the agreement. That point is no good. The wife paid the outstanding amount to the building society. That was ample consideration. It is true that the husband paid her £40 a month which she may have used to pay the building society. But still her act in paying was good consideration.

So, essentially, Mrs. Merritt acted as an agent by taking money from Mr. Merritt and using a portion of it to pay their joint mortgage. Was this "service" considered an "ample" consideration? Would it be considered so nowadays?

2

Almost anything is good consideration for a contract (even a peppercorn) - they only real exception is something that a party was already obliged to do by law or contract.

Even if all Mrs Merrit did was act as agent, literally taking the money directly from Mr Merrit and depositing it in the building society, that service is itself good consideration.

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