Doctrine of Privity in Contract Law

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The Concept of Doctrine of Privity Privity of contract has been an integral and vital element throughout the world of common law. For the past 150 years or so, this particular doctrine has been a fundamental keystone of the English Contract Law. The main ideology of the doctrine of privity is that only those who are parties to a contract can have rights or liabilities under it. This gives rise to the effect that if the two parties of a contract agree that either one of them will provide a form of benefit to a third party, the third party has no legality to sue to enforce that agreement. It also means that should the parties to the contract agree to impose an obligation upon the third party, they will be unable to force the third party to undertake that obligation, even if the third party has previously agreed to do so. The strict application implied by the doctrine of privity, in particular to the rule relating to the benefits of the third party has found to be inconvenient in terms of practice and has also spurred on condemnation among the academic writers for many years now and also from the judicial quarters. In relation to the matter, Lord Diplock has described the doctrine of privity as ‘an anachronistic shortcoming that has many years been regarded as a reproach to English private law’. The reason why English law of contract has such an attachment to the doctrine of privity is that since the paradigm of the classical contract is a two-party bargain, it follows that only those two parties whose dealings led to the creation of it will be regarded as being able to enforce it or be sued under it. The common law reasoned that only a promisee may enforce the promise meaning that if the third party is not a promise or part of the contract he or she is not privy to the contract. This was illustrated through the case of Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Co Ltd v Selfridge &
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