Legal Maxim

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Literal Meaning

Something for something




In general sense, the meaning of Quid Pro Quo is a consideration, i.e. something in return for something or something in exchange for something. Such consideration makes both the parties to the contract or agreement to oblige in doing something or abstains from doing something as per the wish or desire of the other. Therefore, it signifies the consideration part of the contract which passes from one party to the other, thereby rendering the agreement valid and binding. It refers to some valuable consideration in contract law and forms an essential elements of a valid contract.

However, if the agreement appears one-sided, the courts may deem the contract as void. Without consideration or quid pro quo, a contract may be determined to be nonbinding and invalid.

Under the Indian Contract Act 1872, Section 2 (d) defines consideration as “When at the desire of the promisor, the promisee or any other person has done or abstained from doing, or does or abstains from doing, or promises to do or abstain from doing something, such act or abstinence is called a consideration for the promisee.”

In simple terms, the above definition includes:

1.   An act of doing something.

Example – A promises B of payment for goods which B intends to sell on credit to C. Thus, in this case, selling of goods by B to C in consideration of A’s promise.

2.   An act of abstaining or refraining from doing something.

Example – A promises B of not complaining about him bunking his college to his parents on payment of Rs. 500. Thus, in this case, A is the consideration of B’s payment.

3.   A return promise.

Example – A agrees to sell his dog to B for Rs. 8000. Thus, in this case, B’s promise to pay the sum of Rs. 8000 is the consideration for A’s promise to sell the dog, similarly, A’s promise to sell the dog is the consideration for B’s promise to pay the sum of Rs. 8000.

Case Laws

In Sreenivasa General Traders & Ors. Vs. the State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors., the Supreme Court held that there should be an element of quid pro quo present for each service rendered in the sphere of a contractual relationship.

Further the Supreme Court in Krishi Upaj Mandi Samiti vs Orient Paper & Industries Ltd., held that “There is no quid pro quo between the taxpayer and the public authority. There must be an element of quid pro quo between the person who pays it and the public.”