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Commentary On Contract (Rights Of Third Parties) Act 1999 Notes

Updated Commentary On Contract (Rights Of Third Parties) Act 1999 Notes

Contract Law Notes

Contract Law

Approximately 1511 pages

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Commentary on Contract (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999

Test of Enforceability

  • First = Simple Test s.1(1)(a) and s.1(3)

    • Two conditions

      • S.1(1)(a): Third party is expressly mentioned as having a specific right

      • S.1(3): Identification may comprise of

        • Name of third party

        • Identification of class of which X falls into (e.g. stevedores)

        • Or a particular description of whom X could be (e.g. person living at particular address)

          • Third party need not be in existence when agreement is made

  • Second Test = Implied Test s.1(1)(b) s.1(2) and s.1(3)

    • Three conditions

      • S.1(1)(b): Term must purport to confer a benefit on third party

        • Burrows: not meant to include consequential benefits

          • E.g. Trietel: A employed under contract with B to cut B’s hedge adjoining C’s land

            • Does this fall within s.1(1)(b)?

              • C = expressly identified

              • But any benefit is consequential to C from B’s main benefit

              • So can’t be sued on by C.

        • The Laemthong Glory (No.2) [2005]: Sellers sell goods, buyer agrees to indemnify sellers, servants and agents against loss caused by the seizing of the ship, Ship was then seized. Ship owners suffered loss – can they use indemnity clause?

          • Held

            • For the purpose of delivering the cargo it’s right to say that the owners acted as the charterers' agents,

            • Others might also be involved, perhaps stevedores or port agents something of that kind,

              • should they be the agents of the charterers in fact,

                • but it is clear that the primary party to whom this clause was intended to refer as “your agents” must be the owners

      • S.1(3): Third party must be expressly identified by name, description or class (but need not be in existence)

      • S.1(2): Avoid presumption of parties intending to confer rights on X being overturned by evidence to the contrary

        • Burrows: attempting to balance need for certainty with need for flexibility, borrowed from NZ Law.

          • Comes from idea “when is it likely that parties have conferred a benefit?”

            • Answer = expressly identified

            • Presumption = expressly identified X is entitled to sue

    • How to rebut the presumption

      • Express term that third party not allowed to rebut presumption

      • Or other inconsistent terms which would also suggest this

        • E.g. clause that says no assignment of rights.

      • Nisshin Shipping Co Ltd v Cleaves & Co Ltd [2004]: Owners -> charterers, with agreement to pay brokers’ commission. Owners then refused to pay said commission. Brokers sued as 3P.

        • Coleman J:

          • S.1(2) only rebuts presumption where proper construction clearly shows opposite intent –

            • where expressly stated or something like this that third party not to have benefit of that clause

          • If not mentioned, or where clauses show some neutral intent

            • Then presumption is to be found in favour of the third party gaining the benefit.

Need for a second test?

  • Burrows: number of reasons why need second test

    • Contractual rights between two parties are not always governed by express rights (e.g. implied terms)

    • First test would only grant remedy to the people with smart enough lawyers to have produced a “magic formula” of contract drafting.

    • Act would not have very wide extension otherwise.

  • Advantages of Two tests

    • Position for contract draftsman is such that they can make the position absolutely clear one way or another

      • Either you expressly confer the right

      • Or expressly preclude the right by negating the presumption under second test

        • “no third parties under Rights of Third Parties Act 1999 shall have the right to enforce terms of this contract”.

    • But, if they aren’t precisely clear

      • Then still chance for X to receive justice and conferral of benefit through second test.

  • MacMillan: Problem = Law Com assumes that parties intend to seek remedies only from those they have contracted with and not cut across contractual chains. In fact, this ain’t the case.

    • E.g. A contracts with B to perform building work. B subcontracts to C. Unless clearly stipulated, clear that work of C is performed for the benefit of A.

      • A will therefore sue C if B goes insolvent and C fails to perform. C will suffer double loss: won’t get paid by B, and will get sued for non-performance by A.

        • Means that a wise draftsperson will just expressly stipulate that a term does not confer a benefit on anyone except the contracting parties to avoid this risk.

What about negative rights (e.g. exclusion/limitation clauses)?

  • These are covered by s.1(6)

    • Expressly states that X can use Act to avail himself of use of exclusion/limitation clauses

      • Burrows: would normally fall within first test, but would otherwise fall within second

        • E.g. New Zealand Shipping Co v Satterthwaite [1975]:

          • As long as third parties expressly identified in contract

          • Then would simply fall within s.1(6) and s.1 generally.

            • And they’d get a benefit of the...

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