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Contract Cannot Impose Liability on a Third Party


CONTRACT CANNOT IMPOSE LIABILITY ON A THIRD PARTY. A contract acts upon the parties, and is founded upon their assent to its terms; it follows that one not a party, and not assenting to its terms, cannot be made to assume its obligation. So it is said "a man cannot, of his own will, pay another man's debt without his consent, and there by convert himself into a creditor." (Durnford v. Mes siter, 5 M. & S. 446.) While it is true that a contract between parties can not confer a liability upon a third party, yet the ex istence of such contract does impose a duty upon all persons extraneous to such contract not to interfere with its due performance. "A contract confers upon the parties to rights in rem (in the thing) as well as rights in personam; and it not only binds together the parties by an obligation, but it imposes upon all the world a duty to respect the contractual tie." (Anson on Cont. p 212.) The case of Lumley v. Gye, above cited, is followed in a number of American cases. (Dudley v. Briggs, 141 Mass. 584; Jones v. Stanley, 76 N. C. 355.) In this latter case it was said "the same reasons cover every case where one person maliciously persuades an other to break any contract with a third person. It is not confined to contracts of service." Other cases hold that the doctrine of Lumley v. Gye, or Bowen v. Hall, does not generally prevail in this country, and state that a man "may advise another to break a contract, if it he not a contract for personal services. He may use any lawful influences or means to make his advice pre vail. In such a case the law deems it not wise or prac ticable to inquire into the motives that instigate the advice. His conduct may be morally and not legally wrong."—Peters, J. in Haywood v. Tillson, 75 Me. 352. (Cooley's Torts, 279; 35 Albany L. J. p. 224.)

parties, person and terms