Illusory Promise Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Illusory Promise, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Illusory Promise?

(n) An Illusory Promise is the assurance given by a person or entity to another r person or entity to do or executes an action or activity which is unclear and unspecific or impossible to execute. Eg. Promise to predict the future perfectly in advance.

History and Meaning of Illusory Promise

An Illusory Promise refers to a statement given by one party to another, which appears to make a commitment but actually leaves the promisor with a choice of whether to perform or not. The promise may lack specificity or details, making it difficult to enforce. Promises like these are not considered legally binding because they contain no commitments or obligations.

The concept of an Illusory Promise dates back to the early days of contract law. It was developed to help courts determine whether a contract existed in situations where one party's obligations were uncertain or vague.

Examples of Illusory Promise

  • A promise to sell a car that "may or may not be in good condition" is considered to be an Illusory Promise because the statement is unclear.
  • "I will pay you $100 if I feel like it" is another example of an Illusory Promise because the promisor has not committed to anything – it is entirely up to the promisor's discretion whether or not to pay.
  • A promise to do something "as long as I'm happy with the work you do" is also an Illusory Promise because the promisor's satisfaction is subjective and impossible to measure.

Legal Terms Similar to Illusory Promise

  • Unilateral Contract: A legal agreement enforceable against one party in which an offeror promises to pay or perform only after the occurrence of a specified act.
  • Ambiguous Contract: A legal agreement that contains language or terms that are unclear, making it difficult to enforce.
  • Conditional Promise: A statement that only creates an obligation to act if a certain condition is met, and therefore, is not considered a binding agreement.