Evolution of the doctrine of Consideration
To gain a better understanding of consideration and its current standing, it is useful to look at its evolution and historical development. Many trace the beginnings of consideration to the sixteenth century, however even as far back as the first and second centuries Roman Law had several procedures in place known as condictiones. These were actions for the recovery of money or property. One of the most important of these was an action called condictio causa dada causa non secuta (recovery for something given on a basis, that basis failing). This doctrine held that money or property could be said to be based on what is good and fair and therefore, it could be said that the rationale was that it was not fair that X could retain a benefit conferred by Y without providing any of the agreed counter performance. It is from these humble beginnings, doctrines of failure of consideration have developed.
In English law, the doctrine of consideration first began to take real shape in the late sixteenth century in its relationship to assumpsit. It started out with the very general definition, being "a reason for enforceability." It was in the case of Stone v Wythipol where it was established that that for consideration to suffice, it was to involve benefit to the promisor and/or detriment to the plaintiff. Modification this rule since took place to adopt modern day standards. To further the rules established in Stone v Wythipol, consideration was also said to exist if there was the component of "something which might be categorised as the price, paid by the promisee for the promise." And so further development in the doctrine of consideration such as the term "price" have allowed for a broadening in its use.
Despite English law...