Tweddle v Atkinson (1861) 1 B&S 393

Contract law – Privity of contract


The son and daughter of the parties involved in this dispute were getting married. As such, the father of the groom and father of the bride entered into an agreement that they would both pay sums of money to the couple. Unfortunately, the father of the bride died before he paid the money to the couple and the father of the son died before he could sue on the agreement between the parties. As a result of this, the groom brought a claim against the executor of the will for the payment that was previously agreed between the fathers.


The primary issue for the court was whether or not the son could, as a third party to the agreement, enforce the contract between the fathers, which was ultimately for the benefit of him and his wife. It was argued that the intention of the agreement between the fathers was for the couple to derive a benefit from the payment of the money. Moreover, it was argued that preventing the son from being able to enforce the contract would effectively ignore the intention of the fathers. 


The groom’s claim was rejected by the court. It was held that the groom was not a part of the agreement between the fathers and he did not provide any consideration for the promise made by the father of the bride. Also, as a stranger to the contract, the son could not enforce it. On this basis, the court found in favour for the executor of the will.