Brief of Hartley v Ponsonby

Brief of Hartley v Ponsonby by Legum

Hartley v Ponsonby [1857] 26 LJ QB 322:

Material Facts:

Hartley, a member of the crew for a ship owned by Ponsonby, agreed to continue a voyage after some members of the crew left and it became unsafe to continue voyage. Hartley’s agreement to continue the voyage was in response to a promise made by Ponsonby to pay extra once the ship docked. When the ship docked, Ponsonby refused to pay the extra money he had promised.


Whether or not Hartley provided consideration for Ponsonby’s promise of paying extra.

Argument of the Defendant:

That continuing the voyage was an existing contractual obligation for Hartley and the remaining crew and cannot be used as consideration.


Hartley provided consideration.

Ratio Decidendi:

That since the ship was rendered unsafe for voyage due to the desertion by other crew members, it became hazardous to continue voyage and therefore led to the frustration of the contract. Such frustration meant that Hartley and the remaining crew were no longer under contractual obligation to continue the voyage. The decision to continue the voyage was therefore new consideration given for the promise of extra pay.