Tweddle v Atkinson – Case Summary

Tweddle v Atkinson, Executor of Guy (Deceased)

Court of Queen’s Bench

Citations: (1861) 1 Best and Smith 393; 121 ER 762; [1861] EWHC QB J57.


William Tweddle and John Guy’s daughter were due to marry each other. The two men agreed between them that they would each pay a sum to Tweddle’s son for the couple’s maintenance. After Guy’s death, Tweddle’s son sued his estate to enforce the agreement made with his father.

  1. Could the claimant sue on a contract he was not a party to?

The High Court held in favour of the defendant. The claimant was not a party to the agreement as he had not provided consideration for it. He therefore had no power to sue to enforce the contract.

This Case is Authority For…

This case establishes the common law principle of privity of contract. The general rule under the common law is that a person who has not provided consideration for an agreement cannot sue in contract law to enforce it. Consideration must move from the person seeking to enforce the contract.


Crompton J noted that love and affection between a father and son does not qualify as consideration.

The common law position has since been supplemented by statutory contractual rights for third-parties under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999.