Enforceability of Promises

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Enforceability of Promises

Big Picture: A contract is a legally enforceable promise- a promise plus consideration. The definition of consideration has changed over time. In our current system, we have two theories under which a promise may be enforced:

  • Bargain Theory- idea of reciprocity, exchange between parties of two promises or a promise in exchange for an action.

  • Promissory Estoppel- idea of one party’s detrimental reliance on another’s promise.

General Consideration Theory

  • Why have consideration concept? Why not just enforce all promises? Consideration serves:

    • evidentiary function

    • cautionary function

    • deterrent function (deterring transactions of “doubtful utility”)

    • channeling function (distinguishing types of transactions and tentative expressions of intent)

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