Dunlop v Selfridge – 1915

January 10, 2024
Micheal James

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Introduction to Dunlop v Selfridge – 1915

Dunlop v Selfridge – 1915 represents a significant milestone in contract law. This case involved a dispute between Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company, a tire manufacturer, and Selfridge & Co., a retailer. The focal point of contention was the breach of a resale price maintenance agreement. The case’s importance lies in its impact on establishing the rights of third parties to enforce contractual terms, challenging the traditional notion of privity of contract and shaping contract law jurisprudence.


Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company entered into a contract with Selfridge & Co. involving the sale of tires. This contract included a resale price maintenance clause, stipulating that Selfridge & Co. must sell Dunlop’s tires at a minimum price. However, Selfridge & Co. violated this agreement by selling the tires below the agreed-upon price, prompting Dunlop to take legal action against the breach. This breach of contract initiated the legal dispute that led to the landmark case of Dunlop v Selfridge – 1915.

Legal Issues

The crux of the legal issue revolved around whether Dunlop, being a third party to the contract between Selfridge & Co., had the legal standing to enforce the resale price maintenance agreement. Traditionally, the doctrine of privity of contract limited the enforcement of contract terms to only the parties directly involved in the contract. The case posed a fundamental question about the rights of a third party, like Dunlop, to enforce contractual terms against a contracting party who breached them.

Chronology of Events

The conflict arose when Selfridge & Co. breached the contract by selling Dunlop’s tires below the agreed-upon minimum price. Dunlop objected to this violation and sought legal redress. The case proceeded through various stages, beginning from the occurrence of the breach to Dunlop initiating legal proceedings to address the breach of contract terms by Selfridge & Co.

Court Proceedings

During the court proceedings, legal representatives for Dunlop and Selfridge & Co. presented their respective arguments and evidence. The central argument focused on whether Dunlop, as a third party to the contract, had the legal right to enforce the terms of the contract against Selfridge & Co. Testimonies, documents, and legal precedents were presented to substantiate each side’s position, and the court carefully deliberated on these aspects.

Judgment and Ruling

The court ruled in favor of Dunlop, marking a significant departure from established contract law principles. The judgment established that a third party, under certain circumstances, can enforce contractual terms against contracting parties who breach them. This ruling expanded the rights of third parties, like Dunlop, to take legal action for breaches of contract terms, challenging the traditional privity doctrine and setting a precedent in contract law.

Impact and Precedence

The judgment in Dunlop v Selfridge – 1915 had far-reaching implications for contract law. It revolutionized the understanding of privity of contract by recognizing the rights of third parties in specific contractual situations. This ruling set a precedent by allowing third parties, like Dunlop, to enforce contractual terms, thus significantly shaping contract law principles and influencing subsequent legal interpretations.


A detailed analysis of the case highlights its profound impact on contract law. The judgment in Dunlop v Selfridge – 1915 fundamentally altered the traditional understanding of privity of contract, emphasizing the evolving nature of legal doctrines in adapting to changing societal and commercial needs. It underscores the court’s acknowledgment of the rights of third parties, contributing significantly to the development and interpretation of contract law principles.

Historical Context

Dunlop v Selfridge – 1915 holds historical significance as a pivotal moment in the evolution of contract law. It exemplifies the adaptability of legal principles to meet evolving societal and commercial demands in the early 20th century. The case’s legacy lies in its influence on subsequent contract law interpretations and its role in shaping the legal landscape.


In conclusion, Dunlop v Selfridge – 1915 represents a landmark case that reshaped contract law. This case study elucidates its pivotal role in recognizing the rights of third parties to enforce contractual terms, challenging established legal doctrines, and contributing to the evolution of contract law principles.

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