Contract – Right to Sue – Pre-marriage contract between fathers of engaged to pay certain sum after wedding – Both fathers died and no sum paid by husband’s farther in law – Whether son has a right to sue.

this page was last time updated on: 13-Nov-2012

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Cases referring to this case:

Tweddle v Atkinson [1861] EWHC QB J57; (1861) 121 ER 762

Father of plaintiff and farther of his wife concluded pre-marriage contract to the effect that they agreed to pay certain sums of money as the marriage portions for future husband and wife. At the first stage it was a verbal promise which later gained the following form of written agreement:

"High Coniscliffe, July 1lth, 1855. Memorandum of an agreement made this day between William Guy, of etc., of the one part, and John Tweddle, of etc., of the other part. Whereas it is mutually agreed that the said William Guy shall and will pay the sum of 200₤ to William Tweddle, his son-in-law; and the said John Tweddle, father to the aforesaid William Tweddle, shall and will pay the sum of 100₤ to the said William Tweddle, each and severally the said sums on or before the 21st day of August, 1855. And it is hereby further agreed by the aforesaid William Guy and the said John Tweddle that the said William Tweddle has full power to sue the said parties in any Court of law or equity for the aforesaid sums hereby promised and specified."

The plaintiff brought a suit says that the said 21st day of August, A.D. 1855, elapsed, and all things have been done and happened necessary to entitle the plaintiff to have the said sum of 200₤ paid by the said William Guy or his executor; yet neither the said William Guy nor his executor has paid the said sum.

Defendants argued that the plaintiff was a stranger to the agreement and to the consideration as stated in the declaration, and therefore cannot sue upon the contract.

Appellants, while agreed with general rule as stated by the defendants, still relied on exception in the case of contracts made by parents for the purpose of providing for their children. They contended that the natural relationship between the father and the son constituted the father an agent for the son, in whose behalf and for whose benefit the contract was made, and therefore the latter may maintain an action upon it.




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