Case Brief Wiki


Peter Beswick was a coal merchant. He agreed to sell his business to his nephew, the respondent, if he paid him a certain sum of money for as long as he lived, and then to pay his wife (the appellant) £5 per week for the rest of her life after he died. He died, and the nephew only paid his aunt once before stating that no contract existed between them. She was also the administratrix of her husband's will. Mrs. Beswick was unsuccessful at trial which she appealled.


  1. Is Mrs. Peter Beswick able to sue her nephew either in her own personal capacity, as the executrix of the will, or both?


Appeal allowed.


Denning held that if the decision in the lower court "truly represents the law of England, it would be deplorable." Denning holds that the rule of privity is simply a procedural rule going to the form of remedy. Finding that Mrs. Beswick has a legitimate interest to enforce the contract as it was made for her benefit she has an interest protected by law. He distinguishes Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Co. Ltd. v Selfridge & Co. Ltd. as Dunlop had no legitimate interest other than maintaining prices to the public disadvantage.

The other Lord Justices agree in the result with Denning, but differ on reasoning. They hold (as Denning did) that Mrs. Beswick had a right to sue as the administratrix of the estate, but not as the beneficiary of the contract.


"Where a contract is made for the benefit of a third person who has a legitimate interest to enforce it, it can be enforced by the third person in the name of the contracting party or jointly with them or, if they refuse to join, by adding them as a defendant."


This case was appealed to the House of Lords.