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Re Selectmove [1995] 1 WLR 474

Whether variation of an agreement is good consideration.

Facts:

The Inland Revenue petitioned the court for a winding-up order in respect of a company, Selectmove, which had accrued arrears in the tax it owed under the PAYE system of tax collection. The company appealed on the grounds that a tax collector had met with the company and agreed that the company could pay the arrears in instalments instead of being wound up. 

Issues:

The Inland Revenue argued that the tax collector had not authority to make an agreement which bound the Revenue. Also, it was argued that there was no consideration for this agreement as the company were only paying what they owed already. The company argued that, according to Williams v Roffey Bros & Nicholls (Contractors) Ltd [1991] 1 QB 1, where an agreement was varied there would be good consideration if the other party obtained some practical benefit from the new arrangement. The Revenue obtained a practical benefit as if the company had gone into liquidation it might not have received as much tax back.

Held:

The tax collector lacked actual authority to bind the Revenue. Therefore, the agreement was not binding. However, the court also considered the question of consideration. Gibson LJ said that Williams v Roffey Bros only applied to cases where work was done or goods supplied. To extend it to debs would go against Foakes v Beer (1883) LR 9 App Cas 605, which expressly said that a practical benefit was not good consideration in law.  As Foakes v Beer was a House of Lords case, the Court of Appeal was bound to follow it. Therefore, the agreement was not supported by consideration.


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