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Williams v Roffey Bros [1990] 2 WLR 1153

The defendants were building contractors who entered an agreement with Shepherds Bush Housing Association to refurbish a block of 27 flats. This contract was subject to a liquidated damages clause if they did not complete the contract on time. The defendants engaged the claimant to do the carpentry work for an agreed price of £20,000. 6 months after commencing the work, the claimant realised he had priced the job too low and would be unable to complete at the originally agreed price. He approached the defendant who had recognised that the price was particularly low and was concerned about completing the contract on time. The defendant agreed to pay the claimant an additional £575 per flat. The claimant continued work on the flats for a further 6 weeks but only received an additional £500. He then ran out of money and refused to continue unless payment was made. The defendant engaged another carpenter to complete the contract and refused to pay the claimant the further sums promised arguing that the claimant had not provided any consideration as he was already under an existing contractual duty to complete the work.

Held:

Consideration was provided by the claimant conferring a benefit on the defendant by helping them to avoid the penalty clause. Therefore the defendant was liable to make the extra payments promised.
 
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