Legal Dictionary


Legal Definition of consideration


  1. Under common law, there can be no binding contract without consideration, which was defined in an 1875 English decision as "some right, interest, profit or benefit accruing to the one party, or some forbearance, detriment, loss or responsibility given, suffered or undertaken by the other". Common law did not want to allow gratuitous offers, those made without anything offered in exchange (such as gifts), to be given the protection of contract law. So they added the criteria of consideration. Consideration is not required in contracts made in civil law systems and many common law states have adopted laws which remove consideration as a prerequisite of a valid contract.

Definition of consideration


    From to consider (from Middle English consideren, from Middle French considerer (modern considérer), from Latin considerare 'to observe (a star)') + -ation



consideration (plural considerations)

  1. The thought process of considering, of taking everything into account.

    After much consideration, I have decided to stay.

  2. Something considered as a reason or ground for a (possible) decision

    The rascal's consideration a prank at the teacher's expense would make him his mates' hero cancelled the consideration the principal's paddle will surely make him reconsider

  3. The tendency to consider others.

    You showed remarkable consideration in giving up your place for your friend.

  4. A payment or other recompense for something done.

    Sure I'll move my car, but only for a consideration.

  5. (law) A matter of inducement for something promised; something valuable given as recompense for a promise, which causes the promise to become binding as a contract.

    * 2007, Wikipedia:Contract:
    Consideration is an intention to create legal relations.

    * 2008, A contract:
    In consideration of the perfomance of B's obligations hereunder, A hereby grants to B's personal license.

Related terms

  • consider
  • considerable
  • considerate
  • considerateness
  • considered (adjective)
  • inconsideration
  • reconsideration

Further reading

Consideration is the legal concept of value in connection with contracts. It is anything of value in the common sense, promised to another when making a contract. It can take the form of money, physical objects, services, promised actions, or even abstinence from a future action. If either promisee already had a legal obligation to render such payment, it cannot be seen as consideration in the legal sense.

In common law consideration it is a prerequisite that both parties offer some consideration before a contract can be thought of as binding.

However, even if a court decides there is no contract, there might be a possible recovery under quantum meruit (sometimes referred to as a quasi-contract) or promissory estoppel.


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


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