Can a Third Party Beneficiary Enforce a Contract In California ?
"Under California law third party beneficiaries of contracts have the right to enforce the terms of the contract under Civil Code section 1559 which provides:
'A contract, made expressly for the benefit of a third person, may be enforced by him at any time before the parties thereto rescind it.' (Harper v. Wausau Ins. Co. (1997) 56 Cal. App. 4th 1079, 1086 66 Cal. Rptr. 2d 64.)
The promise in such a situation is treated as having been made directly to the third party. ( Outdoor Services, Inc. v. Pabagold, Inc. (1986) 185 Cal. App. 3d 676, 681 230 Cal. Rptr. 73.)
The third party need not be identified by name. It is sufficient if the third party belongs to a class of persons for whose benefit the contract was made. (Principal Mutual Life Ins. Co. v. Vars, Pave, McCord & Freedman (1998) 65 Cal. App. 4th 1469, 1485 77 Cal. Rptr. 2d 479.)
It is not necessary, however, that the contract be exclusively for the benefit of the third party; he need not be the sole or primary beneficiary. (COAC, Inc. v. Kennedy Engineers (1977) 67 Cal. App. 3d 916, 920 136 Cal. Rptr. 890; 1 Witkin, Summary of Cal. Law (9th ed. 1987) Contracts, 665, p. 603.)
"A third party may qualify as a beneficiary under a contract where the contracting parties must have intended to benefit that third party and such intent appears on the terms of the contract.. .. . Whether a third party is an intended beneficiary or merely an incidental beneficiary to the contract involves construction of the parties' intent, gleaned from reading the contract as a whole in light of the circumstances under which it was entered." (Jones v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. (1994) 26 Cal. App. 4th 1717, 1724-1725 33 Cal. Rptr. 2d 291.)