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Glasbrook v Glamorgan County Council

[1925] AC 270


The case considered whether or not performance of an existing duty could constitute good consideration. The Court held:

1. Performance of public duty is not good consideration

2. But performance of more than required by a public duty is good consideration

Police line


Facts and argument

Glasbrook promised to pay Council for special police protection during a strike (after requesting police protection and being refused). The protection Glasbrook received was more than the police thought necessary. Glasbrook refused to pay and Council sued.

The appellant argued that there was no consideration because the provision of protection was a public duty.



Baron Alderson

(1) The public cannot be called upon to pay the police for performing their obligations and any promise to do so will be unenforceable (in this case there is an obligation to keep the peace, prevent crime, protect property etc)

(2) But if individuals require services of a special kind, not within their obligations, then a promise to pay for these will be enforced (this was the case here and legislation permitted the ‘lending’ of police for purposes of extra-service)

‘If in the judgment of the police authorities, formed reasonably and in good faith, the garrison was necessary for the protection of life and property, then they were not entitled to make a charge for it, for that would be to exact a payment for the performance of a duty which they clearly owed to the appellants and their servants; but if they thought the garrison a superfluity and only acceded [Glasbrook’s] request with a view to meeting his wishes, then in my opinion they were entitled to treat the garrison duty as special duty and to charge for it.’