Ward v Byham: CA 16 Jan 1956

The parties were the parents of an illegitimate daughter. The child lived with the father at first, but the mother requested the child to be returned to her. The father agreed subject to a letter saying: ‘Mildred, I am prepared to let you have Carol and pay you up to andpound;1 per week allowance for her providing you can prove that she will be well looked after and happy and also that she is allowed to decide for herself whether or not she wishes to come and live with you. She is well and happy and looking much stronger than ever before. If you decide what to do let me know as soon as possible’. Both parents subsequently married third parties. The father later stopped making payments. The mother brought the action to recover the payments. The father replied that there had been no consideration for his promise since the mother was only doing what she was already obliged to do in law.
Held: The defence failed.
Lord Justce Denning said: ‘ I have always thought that a promise to perform an existing duty, or the performance of it, should be regarded as good consideration, because it is a benefit to the person to whom it is given. Take this very case. It is as much a benefit for the father to have the child looked after by the mother as by a neighbour. If he gets the benefit for which he stipulated,, he ought to honour his promise; and he ought not to avoid it by saying that the mother was herself under a duty to maintain the child.’

Denning, Morris, Parker LJJ
[1956] EWCA Civ 1, [1956] 2 All ER 318, [1956] 1 WLR 496
National Assistance Act 1948 48
England and Wales
CitedCrowhurst And Mary His Wife v Laverack 20-Nov-1852
The father and mother of an illegitimate child entered into an agreement for the maintenance of the child. He was to contribute on the basis that she would otherwise care for the child. The mother later married, and she and the father now sought . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Children, Contract

Updated: 16 November 2021; Ref: scu.262831