Home | Cases | Williams v Roffey Bros and Nicholls (Contractors) Ltd


Key information

Court of Appeal

Glidewell LJ
Russell LJ
Purchas LJ

Performance of existing duty

Full case

AustraliaWilliams v Roffey Bros and Nicholls (Contractors) Ltd

(1990) 1 All ER 512



P contracted to perform carpentry work for D.  When it became apparent he could not complete on time, D promised to pay P extra money to ensure it was completed on time.  D would incur liability to a third party if the work was not completed on time.  Was D liable to pay the extra amount?


D was liable.   Per Glidewell LJ:


(1) A enters into a contract with B for the supply of goods or services in return for payment by B; and

(2) Prior to completion B has reason to doubt whether A will complete; and

(3) B then promise A additional payment in return for B promising to perform on time; and

(4) As a result of this promise B obtains a benefit or obviates a disbenefit [eg, liability to third party]; and

(5) B’s promise is not given as a result of A’s economic duress or fraud


(6) The benefit to B (or obviation of disbenefit) is capable of being good consideration for B’s promise