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Suppose I have an old refrigerator that no longer works. I don't want it, and would pay someone to take it; its value to me is negative. But my neighbor has an appliance repair company. My refrigerator has value to him for parts; he would pay me to give it to him. In this case, if we sign a contract saying that I give him the refrigerator but he doesn't give me anything, is there consideration?

In other words: if a single action is mutually beneficial to both parties, is that action on its own valid consideration?

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    Why would you ever make something like this so complicated? Just call your neighbor and ask if he wants it. If he does, tell him to come get it and be done with the whole thing.
    – mikem
    Aug 28, 2022 at 4:59
  • @mikem it's a hypothetical question. If we sign a contract for him to take the fridge, then one of us tries to back out, can the other enforce the contract?
    – Someone
    Aug 28, 2022 at 5:21

2 Answers 2

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Actually, mutual benefit is the underlying premise of contract law.

Your analysis of this contract is probably deficient, since you didn't recognize the actual values being exchanged. The fridge has objective value, but subjectively it seems to you that it has no value since you don't want a storage chest or a bunch or parts. It you want it thrown away, it will cost you actual money to be free of it (which I assume has subjective value to you, in addition to its clear objective value). The neighbor offers a useful service, so you get something in exchange for that which you give.

If you are bothering to write a formal contract for this, you would include some verbiage that says that you give the fridge and he takes it away.

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  • Thank you! So even though it's one action physically, legally my giving and his taking of the fridge are separate?
    – Someone
    Aug 27, 2022 at 15:57
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    Contract law doesn't operate in terms of physical acts, it operates in terms of "reasons". Your reason for an obligation is one thing, his reason for the obligation is another thing, it happens that he does most of the physical labor of carting off the corpse, but this isn't labor theory of value.
    – user6726
    Aug 27, 2022 at 17:22
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Gifts are legal

They are not contracts and don’t engage contract law. They require the giver to have clear title (so you can’t owe money on the fridge), an intention to give and acceptance by the recipient.

Valuable consideration is complicated

Consider a contract between you and a dump. That’s clearly a contract, but what’s the consideration? You give them money and rubbish and they give you … what?

Well, they give you a place to leave the rubbish and that’s enough. Your friend is giving you a place to leave your fridge. That’s enough.

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