Legal Maxim

Home ยป Nudum Pactum


Literal meaning

A naked agreement

Origin

Latin

Explanation

The maxim denotes an agreement made without any consideration. As per law, for a contract to be valid it must show a mutual intent to contract including an offer, an acceptance, and a consideration. Thus, one of the three basic requirements for a contract to be enforceable is a consideration, which means a promise to pay money, or valuable items or any other perquisite as discussed by the parties involved in the contract or an agreement. Where there is a nudum pactum, there is no consideration, and thus, the contract is neither enforceable nor valid.

Illustration

A owns a property โ€˜Gโ€™. A hires B, a broker to sell the property โ€˜Gโ€™ without any agreement to pay any consideration. However, A sold the property through his own efforts. In such a case, B cannot claim for any compensation, since the agreement made to him is without any consideration.

Case Law

In Union of India vs F. Gian Chand Kasturi Lal, the Punjab-Haryana High Court held that โ€œA consideration of some sort or other is so necessary to the forming of a contract, that a “nudum pactum’, or agreement to do or pay something on one side, without any compensation on the other, will not at law support an action; and a man cannot be compelled to perform it. The nakedness of a promise, in our system, consists in the absence of consideration, and not in the want of formal conditions, such as writing or registration. Thus, our notion of a bare promise bears no analogy to the ‘nudum pactum’ of the digest. The law, it has been observed, ‘supplies no means nor affords any remedy to compel the performance of an agreement made without sufficient consideration. Such agreement is ‘nudum pactum ex quo non oritur actio; and whatsoever may be the sense of this maxim in the civil law, it is in the last-mentioned sense only that it is to be understood in our law.โ€