Illusory Promise

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Illusory Promise

A statement that appears to assure a performance and form a contract but, when scrutinized, leaves to the speaker the choice of performance or non-performance, which means that the speaker does not legally bind himself or herself to act.

When the provisions of the purported promise render the performance of the person who makes the promise optional or completely within his or her discretion, pleasure, and control, nothing absolute is promised; and the promise is said to be illusory. For example, a court decided that a promise contained in an agreement between a railroad and an iron producer whereby the railroad promised to purchase as much iron as its board of directors might order was illusory and did not form a contract.

illusory promise

n. an agreement to do something that is so indefinite one cannot tell what is to be done or the performance is optional (usually because it is just a gesture and not a true agreement). Therefore, the other party need not perform or pay since he/she got nothing in what he/she may have thought was a contract.

References in periodicals archive ?
TONY Blair profoundly misunderstands sentiment in Britain when he suggests the Brexit vote might be reversed by his illusory promise that the EU will dismantle Treaties and return power to people and their national parliaments.
These desperate people who join or support ISIS include Sunni Arabs whose lives in Syria and Iraq have been a series of miseries for many decades, and Arabs and foreigners from other countries who see in ISIS the illusory promise of a noble struggle that gives meaning to their otherwise hollow and vulnerable lives.
The court considered the agreement in question to be unsupported by consideration, as neither continued at-will employment, nor an illusory promise to arbitrate on the part of the employer, were found to be adequate consideration.
There is room for more discussion about linking together elite courtesans and struggling prostitutes (Salkeld writes that "the distinction should no longer distract us" [23]), as well as the relationship of both groups with women who seem to have willingly bedded men on the illusory promise of marriage.
This may well have all been about Scotland: The pro-Union lobby in Scotland has already used the Welsh tax deal to show that devolution within the UK is a real possibility, not just an illusory promise.
Some specific areas considered include culinary capital in the digital age, culinary resistance in the form of competitive eating and junk food foodies, and gender, class, and the illusory promise of transformation in TV cooking shows.
The life insurance industry should adopt the motto: "Value trumps both price and the illusory promise of performance.
Thus, every American president's promise at the beginning of his term, to fund the development of alternative energy to meet the growing needs of the largest energy consuming market in the world and to replace oil, - so that the US becomes independent of Middle East oil supplies-, is an illusory promise at best.
Maureen runs toward the sound of a mysterious helicopter, lured, we are told, by the illusory promise of "a kitchen, a house just the other side of the next tree" (JP 160).
If the prosecutor or judge tells you during a plea bargain negotiation that as part of the plea you can appeal, then what you have, they refer to it in case law as illusory promise.
Like many fans raised on the emotional promise that a new generation of Scottish-born stars is just around the corner, I have frequently put my faith in the swashbuckling inconsistency at Hibs and the illusory promise of Scotland's Under-21 squad.
In education, the emphasis on "community control" by left and right, has held out the illusory promise that separate can be equal--put to the lie, most recently, by a study finding that predominantly poor schools are 24 times less likely to perform at a high level than middle-class schools.