Pearce v Brooks (1866) LR 1 Ex 213

You are here:
< Back


  • A prostitute enters into a contract with a carriage company to provide a carriage for her work.
  • She does not pay, so the carriage company tries to recover the cost.


  • Pollock CB, Martin, Piggott and Bramwell: You cannot recover under an illegal contract: if you know the supply of something will be used for an illegal purpose, you cannot recover it.
  • Baron Martin expressed doubt over whether this principle would apply if it was not entirely certain to the party that the money or goods forming the object of the contract would be used for an illegal purpose.
  • If it is immoral, same rules apply.


“I have always considered it as settled law, that any person whocontributes to the performance of an illegal act by supplying a thing with the knowledge that it is going to be used for that purpose, cannot recover the price of the thing so supplied. If, to create that incapacity, it was ever considered necessary that the price should be bargained or expected to be paid out of the fruits of the illegal act (which I do not stop to examine), that proposition . . has now ceased to be law.”

(Pollock CB)

-- Download Pearce v Brooks (1866) LR 1 Ex 213 as PDF --

FavoriteLoadingSave this case