Is performance of an existing contractual duty sufficient consideration for a promise of extra payment? - the "traditional" rules

Summary: The claimant, a seaman, agreed to sail a ship from London, to Cronstadt, to Gottenburgh and then back to London. The complement of crew was eleven. The wages of the seamen were to be £5 per month. The ship sailed from London to Cronstadt. Whilst at Cronstadt, two of the crew deserted. The master, to induce the remaining nine seamen to perform the rest of the voyage, promised to split the wages of the two deserters between them, in addition to their normal wages, provided they continued the voyage. The voyage was then completed. The defendant refused to pay the claimant the additional sums promised.

On a voyage from London to the Baltic, two of the seamen deserted and, because the captain could not find replacements at Cronstadt, he promised the remaining crew that he would divide the wages of the deserters between them if they were to sail the ship back to London. Was this promise enforceable?

Garrow for the defendant insisted that this agreement was contrary to public policy and utterly void. In West India voyages, crews are often thinned greatly by death and desertion; if a promise of advanced wages were valid, exorbitant claims would be set up on


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