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More promises to keep: The expansion of contractual liability since 1921

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  • As part of the Alberta Law Review's Special Edition celebrating the seventy-fifth anniversary of the opening of the Law School in 1921, this article endeavours to trace aspects of the expansion of the enforceability of promises from 1921 to 1996. To provide a general context for subsequent analysis, the author begins by outlining the two main theories underlying contractual liability: consideration-based liability and reliance-based liability. The author goes on to discuss how the grounds for enforcing a promise have now expressly gone beyond the structures of a consideration-based liability to include, in addition, a more fact sensitive approach which looks to reasonable reliance by the promisee as a valid reason to enforce a promise. This contention is illustrated through a discussion of two relatively recent phenomena: the judicial reentrenchment of the doctrine of promissory estoppel and the extension of contractual protection to third party beneficiaries. The author concludes by offering some conclusions as to the extent to which the doctrine of consideration has been eroded. | Dans le cadre de cette 9dition spiciale de I'Alberta Law Review marquant le soixantequinzijme anniversaire de lafondation de lafaculti de droit (1921), le prdsent article suit certains aspects de livolution de la force exicutoire des promesses de 1921 d 1996. Pour fournir un contexte gniral 6 l'analyss subsdquence, I'auteur commence par ddcrire les deux thgories fondamentales de la responsabilitd contractuelle : l'une axie sur la doctrine de la contrepartie, I'autre sur la confiance. L 'auteur examine ensuite comment les motifs d'exigibilitd d'une promesse ont maintenant dpassi les rigles de I'obligation fondde sur la contrepartie pour inclure, de plus, une approche plus sensible aux faits faisant de la confiance raisonnable de la personne concernie une raison valable de rdalisation d'une promesse. Ce point de vue est illustrd au cours de l'examen de deux ph.nomdnes relativement ricents : la rdaffirmation par le judiciaire de la doctrine de prdclusion promissoire (ou d'irrecevabilitd fondde sur une promesse) et I'extension de la protection contractuelle aux tiers binficiaires. L'auteur conclut en proposant certaines conclusions sur I'ampleur de 1' rosion de la doctrine de la contrepartie.

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    © 1996 Shannon O'Byrne et al. This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.
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    • O'Byrne, S. (1996). More promises to keep: The expansion of contractual liability since 1921. Alberta Law Review, 35(1), 165-188. Retrieved from
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