Monday, September 27, 2010

Law School Corner - Consideration

Hey there everyone. I have recently gotten sick. I don't know exactly how it happened, but this all began after I went to an event featuring dueling pianos. The concept is that you have two guys and two pianos, and they play and sing basically any song that is requested and the audience sings along, including me. Just know this: when I sing along, I SING ALONG. I am serious about singing along.
Immediately after the dueling pianos party, my throat began to get itchy until yesterday, when I turned into a giant, sweaty, burning hot, wet mess all over my body. I think I might have caught a contagious, disgusting disease by singing. Last night I woke up 4 times in the middle of the night. I tell you this mostly so you will feel bad for me and give me attention.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about going to law school.

Here is a handy fact I picked up the other day that you could apply in your very own life. Today's lesson: Consideration. Consideration is an aspect of Contract law. Contrary to common believe, a contract can be formed without a written document. Most contracts can be simply oral promises, so watch your back.

Consideration is a concept that helps courts decide whether or not a promise is enforceable. So although a promise might have been made, the law will basically say it can't be enforced unless it has consideration.

The quickest test to gauge if consideration exists is the Bargain-Exchange Method:

1. Did the promisor make the promise in order to induce the promisee to do (or not do) something?
2. Did the promisee do (or not do) that thing in order to recieve the promise made by the promisor?

Here is an example of a promise where there is consideration, and is thus enforceable:

Promisor: Hey Craig, if you give me your Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman DVD's, I will give you my authentic mountain man outfit.

Craig: You've got yourself a deal! What a fool! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

In this example, the Promisor makes a promise to give me his mountain man outfit in order to induce me to give him my Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman DVD's. In turn, I am giving him my Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman DVD's so that he will give me his mountain man outfit. In this case, there is consideration and either side could sue if either of us failed to live up to our promises.

Here is an example of a promise where there is no consideration:

Promisor: Tell you what Craig, take my authentic mountain man outfit. You need it more than I do.

Craig: You've got yourself a deal. What a fool! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

In this case, I didn't do anything in order to get the promisor to give me his authentic mountain man suit, and he isn't giving it to me in order to induce me to do anything. Thus, there is no consideration and he is not legally obligated to give me his mountain man suit. If he decides later, "Gee, this mountain man outfit really apeals to my wacky sense of style. Craig can rot in Hell, without so much as an authentic mountain man outfit!" then I have no legal recourse to get him to give me his mountain man outfit.

Obviously these examples are pretty simple, but for more difficult cases, you still apply the same Bargain-Exchange Method. Basically, consideration ensures you don't make a gratuitious promise, like offering to give a gift, and then get sued for never doing so. This is good news for me, because no one can sue me to collect on all the French kisses I have promised in the past.
Meanwhile, I have somehow tricked you to read law school curriculum. Now, don't you feel like a fool?

Anyway, we'll see if anyone finds this interesting. This is a Law School Corner test run. What I learned from the last post is that if I leave anything on the Internet long enough, I can even get two comments without resorting to dancing like a fool, alone in my apartment.

Final Note: There are some exceptions when a promise is still enforceable, even without consideration. I'm not going to talk about them. Just know these exceptions are likely perilously hanging over your head, waiting to crush your soul. If you only promise to French kiss a few people, you'll probably be safe. French kissing is the number one issue clogging our litigation system.


MandiScandal said...

I like the law corner. I took a business law and an econ law class in my day. I liked them a lot and learned a thing or two.

I think if you have a good enough lawyer you can win any case though, including the failure to deliver on french kisses.

jaime said...

The really question here is do these said Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman DVD's exist or not?!? I, for one, would like to borrow them. No bartering or exchanging, just borrow. Now if I never give them back to you does that mean you can't sue me cause I never promised to? I'm not saying that's what will happen...I just want to know my rights in this situation.

Craig Barlow B. said...

Well Jaime, that might qualify for one of the exceptions, called promissory estoppel. If you

1. make a promise to me that you just want to borrow it, and you

2. use the promise to induce me to do something (give it to you) and

3. I rely on your promise to my detriment (relinquishing my right to watch Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, temporarily) and

4. You reasonably anticipated I was relying on your promise (which you were in your thievery scheme), and then

4. you break your promise.

Then promissory estoppel applies, and I can still sue you for breaking your promise. Those precious, precious Dr. Quinn Medine Woman DVD's will be restored to their rightful owner.

And no, I don't actually own these DVD's.

Seneca said...

Oh heavens. What a good laugh. Thank you for taking my mind off of this neverending hot hot heat in Az!!!

Andrea Jolene said...

I have attempted to send you incredibly clever comments about this her post of law school TRICKERY! And all have failed to "stick." So here's my comment telling you there were 3-4 wise-cracks about Mountain Men, Dr. Quinn, and how it all relates law school and trickery floating out there in wise-crack universe. I had a nice chuckle... I chuckled for the both of us.

Bridger W. said...

Absolutely fantastic post. I don't know how I've fallen so far behind on your blog.

Bridger W. said...

Oh, and I should mention that I love the two ways I know you've become ill: singing too much and eating too much ice cream.