Adequacy of Consideration

September 25, 2023

Adequacy of Consideration in Indian Contract Law: Understanding the Essentials.


In the realm of contract law, the concept of consideration holds paramount importance. Adequacy of consideration, a fundamental principle in Indian Contract Law, is a crucial determinant in the validity and enforceability of a contract. Under the Indian Contract Act, 1872, consideration is the quid pro quo that the parties exchange to bind their agreement. This article delves into the concept of adequacy of consideration in Indian Contract Law and its significance in the formation and enforcement of contracts.

Understanding Consideration:

Consideration is a vital element in a contract, representing the value or benefit that each party receives or expects to receive in exchange for their promise. It is a cornerstone of contract law because it differentiates binding agreements from mere gratuitous promises. For a contract to be legally valid, it must contain an offer, acceptance, and consideration.

Adequacy of Consideration:

Adequacy of consideration refers to the sufficiency or value of what is promised in return for a promise. In Indian Contract Law, the law is clear that consideration need not be equal in value or measure; it only needs to be lawful and sufficient. The courts are generally reluctant to inquire into the adequacy of consideration unless there is clear evidence of fraud, undue influence, or other vitiating factors.

Key Points Regarding Adequacy of Consideration:

Sufficiency Over Equality: As mentioned earlier, the law does not require consideration to be equal in value. It is entirely acceptable for one party to provide a significantly greater benefit than the other. What matters is that both parties must provide something of value, and the consideration must not be illusory.

Lawful Consideration: For a contract to be valid, consideration must be lawful. This means that the promises exchanged must not involve any illegal or immoral activities.

Absence of Coercion: Adequate consideration should be provided voluntarily. If one party is coerced, threatened, or unduly influenced into providing consideration, the contract may be voidable.

Intention to Create Legal Relations: Parties must also possess the intention to create legal relations. If an agreement lacks this intent, it may not be legally binding, even if there is adequate consideration.

Practical Scenarios:

Adequacy of consideration can be observed in various contractual scenarios. For instance, a buyer purchases a house for a nominal sum of ₹10,000 when the actual market value is ₹1 million. In this case, the adequacy of consideration is evident as long as both parties enter the contract willingly and with lawful intentions.

Similarly, in employment contracts, an employer offers a monthly salary to an employee in return for their services. The value of the consideration may vary significantly based on the employee’s qualifications and the industry’s standards, but it remains legally adequate as long as it is lawful and the parties agree.

Cases Illustrating Adequacy of Consideration:

Bhagwandas Goverdhandas Kedia v. Girdharilal Parshottamdas & Co. (1966):

In this case, the court held that adequacy of consideration is not a matter for judicial scrutiny. In other words, the court will not evaluate whether the consideration exchanged in a contract is of equal value. As long as the consideration exists and is real, the contract is valid.

Currie v. Misa (1875):

Although this is not an Indian case, it provides a foundational principle in contract law. The court held that consideration need not be adequate but must be “valuable” or “sufficient.” It emphasized that the courts would not delve into the “adequacy” of consideration.

Chinnaya v. Ramayya (1882):

In this landmark Indian case, the court emphasized the importance of considering “possibility of benefit or detriment to the party.” It established that if a party incurs some obligation or detriment or foregoes a right, it can be considered valid consideration.


Adequacy of consideration in Indian Contract Law is a fundamental principle that ensures the enforceability of contracts while allowing parties the flexibility to negotiate and structure their agreements. It highlights the essence of fairness and legality in contractual relationships. While Indian courts generally refrain from questioning the adequacy of consideration, it is vital for parties to enter into contracts with genuine intentions and without any undue influence or coercion. Understanding the concept of adequacy of consideration is essential for anyone involved in contract formation, as it safeguards the integrity of contractual agreements and the broader legal framework.

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