Glasbrook Bros v Glamorgan County Council [1925] AC 270

Exceeding a public duty can be good consideration.


During a strike at a colliery the colliery manager asked for additional police protection for the colliery and insisted he required police officers to be stationed on the premises. The police superintendent provided mobile officers but refused to station more officers at the colliery unless the manager paid extra to cover the expense. The manager agreed to this but later refused to pay. The trial judge and the Court of Appeal both held that the police were entitled to do this. The colliery appealed to the House of Lords.


The appellant colliery argued that the police had provided no consideration in return for the promise to be paid. They argued it was the duty of the police to provide protection without payment and the agreement had been signed under duress.


By a majority if 3:2 their Lordships held that the police were entitled to be paid. The police had a responsibility without being paid other than by way of ordinary public taxation to provide protection for life and property, keeping the peace and preventing crime. However, by providing officers stationed at the colliery the police had gone beyond their public duty. In doing so they provided good consideration. Therefore, the contract was enforceable and the police could recover the amount charged. Lord Carson and Lord Blanesburgh dissented, however, as they thought the police had done their public duty and nothing more given the particularly organized and threatening nature of the strike which targeted ‘safety men’ responsible for ensuring the colliery could still be safely operated.