A Strange Sort of Survival for Pinnel's Case: Collier v P & M J Wright (Holdings) Limited

Publication Date01 July 2008
AuthorRichard Austen‐Baker
A Strange Sort of Survival for Pinnel’s Case: Collier vP&M
J Wright (Holdings) Limited
Richard Austen-Baker
This note discusses the decision of the Court of Appeal in Collier vP & M J Wright (Holdings)
Limited,and notes that while the Court purports to upholdboth the decision in Pinnel’s Case and
the e¡ect of Re Selectmove, in fact, by an extension of promissory estoppel,it bypasses them.
In Collier vP & M J Wright (Holdings) Limited,
the Court of Appeal (Mummery,
Arden and Longmore LJJ) applied Pinnel’s Case,
in holdi ng that a bare agreement
between a creditor and a joint debtor to the e¡ect that the creditor would accept
payment from that debtor alone of his proportionate share, and not pursue him
for the remainder of the debt, was not binding, since a mere promise to pay a
lesser sum cannot be consideration for discharging a liability for a greater sum.
Arguably, however, the court rang the death-knell of the rule as a signi¢cant pre-
sent fact in the law.
The rule in Pin nel’s Case is that a lesser sum of money, paid on or after the due
date,is not satisfactionfor a debt. However, paymentof a lesser sum togetherwith
some other consideration (in Pinnel’s Case it was suggested that this might be
a horse, a hawk, or a robe
) will su⁄ce to discharge the debt.
In Foak es vBeer,
a case concerning an alleged discharge ofa judgment debt by accord and satisfac-
tion, the House of Lords ¢rst forged a link between the rule in Pinnels Case and
the doctrine of consideration.
In the light of the Court of Appeal’s decision in
Collier, we may in the future only be mentioning it as an historical curiosity, or
as a rather technical fall-back position in cases of relatively infrequent occurrence.
David Collier, together with his business partners Alexander Broadfoot and
Vincent Flute, who were engaged in property development und er the name
Lecturer in Law, Lancaster University Law School.I am grateful to Mr David Midgleyof Christine
Sharpe & Co, solicitors,and to their clie nt,the respondent in this cas e,for kindly furnish ing mewith
the appeal bundle, which has greatly assisted i n giving a fuller background for this note.
1 [2007] EWCACiv 1329; [2007] All ER (D) 233 (Dec).
2 (1602) 5 Coke’sRep 117a.
3ibid at117a,per Coke CJ.
4 Though ‘. . . if a man acknowledges himself to be satis¢ed by deed, it is a good bar, without any-
thing received’Pinnel’s Case,n 2 above, per CokeCJ, 117b.
5 [1881-85] All ER Rep 106.
6 See espec ially the judgmentof Lord Selbourne LC, ibid10 9 - 110.
r2008 The Author.Journal Compilation r2008 The Modern Law Review Limited.
Published by BlackwellPublishing, 9600 Garsington Road,Oxford OX4 2DQ,UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA
(2008) 71(4) 611^620

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