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Stilk v Myrick

[1809] 2 Camp 317

Case summary last updated at 02/01/2020 12:21 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Stilk v Myrick

X paid D to get an object shipped to London by a certain date. Two of D’s shipmen deserted and, unable to get replacements, he offered to share out the deserters’ wages with the remaining crew if they could get the boat in on time, which they did. He then refused to pay. The court held that D did not need to pay for two possible reasons: Firstly, there was no consideration, since the sailor was already contracted to sail the ship home and he wasn’t giving anything new in return for the extra money. Alternatively (the “Espinasse” report) public policy was considered, since it would be bad to allow employees to force their employers to offer more pay by working slowly. The first reason would bar all claims for additional payments and would prevent employers from incentivising employees to meet their deadlines in this way, whereas the public policy rationale would allow promises of “more of the same” even where there is no consideration). 

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