Beswick v Beswick: HL 29 Jun 1967

The deceased had assigned his coal merchant business to the respondent against a promise to pay andpound;5.00 a week to his widow whilst she lived. The respondent appealed an order requiring him to make the payments, saying that as a consolidating Act, the 1925 Act should not be read to change the common law.
Held: The House ordered specific performance of the contract on behalf of the estate though it was to make payments of money to a third party, recognising that the innocent party to the breach of contract had a legitimate interest in having the contract performed even though he himself would suffer no financial loss from its breach.
Lord Guest: ‘as this is a consolidating Act, if the words are capable of more than one construction, then the Court will give effect to that construction which does not change the law. ‘


Lord Reid, Lord Hodson, Lord Guest, Lord Pearce, Lord Upjohn


[1968] AC 58, [1967] 3 WLR 932, [1967] 2 All ER 1197 HL(E), [1967] UKHL 2




Law of Property Act 1925 56(1)


England and Wales


Appeal fromBeswick v Beswick CA 1966
The court was asked as to breach of an agreement to pay a man’s widow an annuity for life.
Held: A plaintiff is entitled to no more than nominal damages in respect of the defendant’s breach of a contract where the plaintiff himself has . .
CitedWhite v Bijou Mansions ChD 1937
The court heard an argument that section 56 of the 1925 Act had not changed the law to allow a third party to sue under a covenant to which he had not been party.
Held: Simonds J rejected an argument that section 56 enabled anyone to take . .
CitedWhite v Bijou Mansions CA 1938
The court heard an rejected an argument that s56 worked to allow a third party to sue under a covenant to which he had not been party: ‘before he can enforce it he must be a person who falls within the scope and benefit of the covenant according to . .
CitedIn re Miller’s Agreement, Uniacke v Attorney-General ChD 1947
Two partners had covenanted with a retiring partner that on his death they would pay certain annuities to his daughters. The Revenue claimed estate duty.
Held: The claim was rejected. The daughters were not parties to the agreement, and had no . .
CriticisedSmith and Snipes Hall Farm Ltd v River Douglas Catchment Board CA 1949
Benefit of Covenant Ran with Land
In 1938, landowners and the Catchment Board agreed that the Board would make good and maintain the banks of a stream, with the landowners contributing to the cost. The agreement was not said to be for the benefit of the landowner’s successors in . .
CitedChelsea Building Society v Armstrong ChD 1951
The court considered a claim to benefit under a contract.
Held: Being in fact a party to an agreement might not be enough; the person claiming a benefit must be named a party in the indenture. . .
CitedDrive Yourself Hire Co (London) Ltd v Strutt CA 1954
The court discussed the doctrine of privity of contract. Lord Denning MR said: ‘It is often said to be a fundamental principle of our law that only a person who is a party to a contract can sue on it. I wish to assert, as distinctly as I can, that . .
CitedIn re Foster 1938
. .
CitedGreen v Russell CA 1959
The court rejected an argument that section 56 had altered the law to allow actions by third parties under a contract. . .
MentionedMidland Silicones Ltd v Scruttons Ltd CA 1960
. .
MentionedMidland Silicones Ltd v Scruttons Ltd HL 6-Dec-1961
The defendant stevedores, engaged by the carrier, negligently damaged a drum containing chemicals. When the cargo-owners sued in tort, the stevedores unsuccessfully attempted to rely on a limitation clause contained in the bill of lading between the . .
CitedKeenan v Handley 1864
The court considered the availability of specific performance as a remedy to a personal representative. . .
CitedHohler v Aston 1920
A Mrs. Aston agreed with her nephew Mr. Hohler to make provision for her niece and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Rollo. Mrs. Aston died before doing so. Mr. Hohler and Mr. And Mrs. Rollo sued the executors of Mrs. Aston for specific performance
CitedRe Ecclesiastical Commissioner’s Conveyance 1936
. .
CitedGrey and Another (Hunter’s Nominees) v Inland Revenue Commissioners; Orse Gray v IRC HL 2-Nov-1959
The House considered whether certain instruments which were presented for adjudication to stamp duty under section 13 of the Stamp Act 1891, are or are not chargeable with ad valorem duty.
Held: The word ‘disposition’ is to be given its . .
CitedTweddle v Atkinson, Executor of Guy, Deceased QBD 7-Jun-1861
An agreement was made by the fathers of a bride and groom to pay the groom a sum of money. When the bride’s father failed to pay, the groom sued.
Held: The claim failed. Wightman J said that no stranger to the consideration could take . .
MentionedDunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company Ltd v New Garage and Motor Company Ltd HL 1-Jul-1914
The appellants contracted through an agent to supply tyres. The respondents contracted not to do certain things, and in case of breach concluded: ‘We agree to pay to the Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company, Ltd. the sum of 5 l. for each and every tyre, . .
CitedLloyd’s v Harper 1888
Lush LJ said: ‘ The next question which, no doubt, is a very important and substantial one, is, that Lloyds, having sustained no damage themselves could not recover for the losses sustained by third parties by reason of the default of Robert Henry . .
MentionedDrimmie v Davies 1899
. .
CitedCoulls v Bagot’s Executor and Trustee Co Ltd 21-Mar-1967
(High Court of Australia) The court considered an action for damages by a party to a contract to enforce an obligation intended to benefit another.
Held: Windeyer J: ‘ I can see no reason why in such cases the damages which A would suffer upon . .
CitedIn re Englebach 1924
A man took out a policy payable to his daughter (then one month old) on her attaining 21. He died. She attained 21 and the policy monies were paid to her but she was then persuaded to pay them into the hands of a stakeholder pending a decision as to . .
CriticisedIn re Shebsman ChD 1943
. .
CriticisedIn re Shebsman CA 1944
. .
CitedSwift v Swift PC 1863
A claim was made for specific performance of a contract for the payment of an annuity of pounds 40.00 per quarter.
Held: Specific performance was ordered. Lord Plunket LC: ‘ It is said she has a complete remedy at Law for the breach of this . .
CitedFortescue v Lostwithiel and Fowey Railway Coy 1894
The fact that there is a small element of personal service in a contract does not destroy the quality of mutuality want of which may in general terms properly be a ground for refusing a decree of specific performance. . .
CitedRe Sinclair 1938
. .

Cited by:

CitedPepper (Inspector of Taxes) v Hart HL 26-Nov-1992
Reference to Parliamentary Papers behind Statute
The inspector sought to tax the benefits in kind received by teachers at a private school in having their children educated at the school for free. Having agreed this was a taxable emolument, it was argued as to whether the taxable benefit was the . .
CitedHM Attorney General v Blake (Jonathan Cape Ltd third Party intervening) HL 3-Aug-2000
Restitutionary Claim against Pofits from Breach
The author had written his book in breach of his duty of confidence. Having signed the Official Secrets Act, he accepted a contractual private law duty. After conviction as a spy, the publication of the book was in breach of the undertaking by not . .
CitedWilson v Secretary of State for Trade and Industry; Wilson v First County Trust Ltd (No 2) HL 10-Jul-2003
The respondent appealed against a finding that the provision which made a loan agreement completely invalid for lack of compliance with the 1974 Act was itself invalid under the Human Rights Act since it deprived the respondent lender of its . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Damages, Contract

Updated: 07 June 2022; Ref: scu.180892