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Pinnel’s Case. - Sir Edward Coke, Selected Writings of Sir Edward Coke, vol. I 
The Selected Writings and Speeches of Sir Edward Coke, ed. Steve Sheppard (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003). Vol. 1.
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(1602) Trinity Term, 44 Elizabeth I In the Court of Common Pleas.
First Published in the Reports, volume 5, page 117a.*
Ed.: Cole owed £8 10s to Pinnel, and paid £5 2s. 2d. Cole claimed Pinnel accepted the lesser amount in satisfaction of the whole debt. Pinnel sued. The court held that, although a debtor can choose the terms of repayment, and the debt may be satisfied by something of value like a horse, a payment for a lesser amount cannot satisfy the debt.
Pinnel brought an Action of Debt upon an Obligation against Cole of 16 l. for the paiment of 8 l. 10 s. the 11 day of Nov. 1600. The Defendant pleaded, that he at the instance of the Plaintiff, before the said day, scil. 1 Octob. 44. apud West solvit querenti he paid to the Plaintiff, 5l. 2s. 2d. quas quidem 5l. 2s. 2d.,1 the Plaintiff accepted in full satisfaction of the 8 l. 10 s. And it was resolved by the whole Court, That paiment of a lesser summe in satisfaction of a greater, cannot be any satisfaction for the whole, because it appeareth to the Judges that by no possibility, a lesser summe can be a satisfaction to the Plaintiff for a greater summe: But the gift of a Horse, Hawk, &c. in satisfaction is good. For it shall be intended that a Horse, Hawk, &c. shall be more beneficial to the Plaintiff than the money in respect of some circumstance, or otherwise the Plaintiff would not have accepted of it in satisfaction. But when the whole summe is due, by no intendment the acceptance of parcel can be a satisfaction to the Plaintiff: But in the Case at Bar it was resolved, that the paiment and acceptance of parcel before the day in satisfaction of the whole, shall be a good satisfaction in regard of circumstance of time; for peradventure parcel of it before the day, shall be more beneficial to him than the whole at the day, and the value of the satisfaction is not material: So if I be bounden in 20 l. to pay you 10 l. at Westminster and you request me to pay you 5 l. at the day at York, and you will accept it in full satisfaction of the whole 10 l. it is a good satisfaction |[117 b] for the whole: for the expenses to pay it at York, is sufficient satisfaction: But in this Case the Plaintiff had Judgment for the insufficient pleading; for he doth not plead that he had payed the 5 l. 2 s. 2 d. in full satisfaction (as by the Law he ought) but pleaded the paiment of part generally; and that the Plaintiff had accepted of it in full satisfaction. And always the manner of tender and of the paiment, shall be directed by him who made the tender or paiment, and not by him who accepteth it. And for this cause Judgment was given for the Plaintiff.
See Reader 36 Hen. 6. Barre 37. in debt upon an Obligation of 10 l. the defendant pleaded, that one F. was bound by the said deed with him, and each in the whole, and that the Plaintiff had made an acquittance to F. bearing date before the obligation, and delivered after, by which acquittance he did acknowledge himself to be paid 20 s. in full satisfaction of the 10 l. And it was adjudged a good barre; for if a man acknowledge himself to be satisfied by deed, it is a good barre, without any thing received. Vide 12 Rich. 2. Barre 243. 26 Hen. 6. Barre 37. 10 Hen. 7, &c.
[* ]The initial pleadings in this case are recorded at 44 Eliz. Rot. 501.
[1. ][Ed.: which is precisely 5L. 2s. 2d.]