06/05/16 “Is ‘ADEQUATE’ the Same as ‘SUFFICIENT’?”

e-legal lesson

Though originally both words were used in reference to quantity, today there is a trend toward using adequate qualitatively, and sufficient quantitatively. Hence adequate means “suitable to the occasion or circumstances,” and sufficient means “enough for a particular need or purpose.”

In contracts, with respect to consideration, a special distinction applies. One rule of consideration is that it need not be adequate but it must be sufficient. Here, not having to be adequate means that the consideration need not be a realistic economic equivalent of the promise it buys, whereas being sufficient means that it must have some economic value, and that it must not stem from a pre-existing legal duty.