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Preexisting Duty Rule: Real Life Scenario

Updated on June 15, 2013

Scenario:A reward for information of capture of a murderer was proposed and then a person with the information called a police officer friend which in turn arrested the victim alone with harm to himself. The question is posed if the police officer would have a right to part or any of the reward money.

The police officer would not have any rights to the reward money because of Preexisting Duty Law. “If a party is already bound by contract to perform a certain duty, that duty cannot serve as consideration for a second contract” (Miller and Hollowell, 2011). This basically means that since it is already the police officer’s job to apprehend criminals, he has no claims to the reward money, as it can be viewed as a secondary contract, his job being the first.

The fact that the police officer was hurt in the apprehension is of no relevance. The officer did not call for back up to save themselves from unneeded danger and risk, so even an exception of Unforeseen Difficulty cannot be argued. In this rule, an exception can be made if difficulties that could not be anticipated were involved in the act of duty. In this case, a police officer maintains risk every time they find themselves on a call. So in no way would the police officer have any claims to reward money from an apprehension.


Miller, Roger & Hollowell, William (2011) Business Law.Text and Exercises.6th Edition


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