Simpkins v Pays – Case Summary

Simpkins v Pays

Assizes (Chester)

Citations: [1955] 1 WLR 975; [1955] 3 All ER 10; (1955) 99 SJ 563; [1955] CLY 473.


The claimant was a paying boarder at the defendant’s home. The claimant, the defendant and the defendant’s granddaughter had a lottery arrangement. They would submit a weekly coupon to a fashion competition. The submission was in the defendant’s name, but on the understanding that all three would share any winnings.

One of their coupons won, but the defendant would not give the claimant her third of the prize. The claimant argued that there was a contract between them obliging the defendant to pay her a third of any prize money. The defendant responded that there was no contract, because the parties did not intend to be legally bound.

  1. Did the parties intend to be legally bound by the arrangement?

The Assizes court held in favour of the claimant. The family relationship between the defendant and her granddaughter might preclude there being a legal relationship between those two alone. However, the fact that the claimant was unrelated was evidence that the parties intended the agreement to be legally binding.

This Case is Authority For…

The presence of an unrelated third-party to an agreement is evidence that even parties with a domestic or social relationship intended to be legally bound by an agreement.