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Employment – Contract – Whether a subsequent promise to pay an additional sum for the same services is nudum pactum.

this page was last time updated on: 15-Oct-2012

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Cases referring to this case:


Harris v Watson (1791) Peake 102


The declaration stated, that the plaintiff being a seaman on board the ship Alexander, of which the defendant was master and commander, and which was bound on a voyage to Lisbon, whilst the ship was on her voyage the defendant, in consideration that the plaintiff would perform some extra work in navigating the ship, promised to pay him five guineas over and above his common wages. There were other counts for work and labour. The plaintiff proved that the ship being in danger, the defendant, to induce the seaman to exert themselves, made the promise stated in the declaration. .


Lord Kenyon at p.103:

If this action was to be supported, it would materially affect the navigation of this kingdom. It bas been long since determined, that when the freight is lost, the wages are also lost. This rule was founded on a principle of policy, for if sailors were in all events to have their wages, and in times of danger entitled to insist on an extra charge on such a promise as this, they would in many cases suffer a ship to sink, unless the captain would pay any extravagant demand they might think proper to make.


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