This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
Whether a contract under seal, if intended for the benefit of a third party, may be enforced by him, is a question upon which there is a divergence of opinion in jurisdictions where a third person can enforce a simple contract for his benefit. The original common-law rule was that no action could be maintained on an indenture except by the parties thereto,1 but a third person could maintain an action on a deed-poll against the party executing it, if he could sue on a simple contract.2 The modern rule, influenced in part by statutes allowing a sealed instrument to be treated for purposes of bringing actions as if it were unsealed, allows third persons to sue on sealed contracts wherever they could sue on 'simple contracts.3 Where a third person can not sue on a simple contract for his benefit, he can not, of course, sue on a sealed contract.4
23 St. Louis v. Wright Contracting Co., 202 Mo. 451, 119 Am. St. Rep. 810, 101 S. W. 6.
24 Armour v. Western Const. Co., 36 Wash. 320, 78 Pac. 1106.
25 Armour v. Western. Const. Co., 36 Wash. 529. 78 Pac. 1106. (The title of the statute referred to liens for labor and materialmen; but the provision of the statute which waft involved in this case extended to provisions which were supplied to contractors.)
26Babcock v. American Surety Co., 236 Fed. 340, 149 C. C. A. 472.
27 Babcock v. American Surety Co., 236 Fed. 340, 149 C. C. A. 472.
1 Alabama. Huckabee v. May, 14 Ala. 263.
Indiana. Haekete v. Flint, 5 Blackf. (Ind.) 69, 33 Am. Dec. 452.
Blaine. Farmaington v. Hobert, 74 Me. 416.
New Hampshire. How v. How, 1 N H. 49.
New Jersey. Loeb v. Barris, 50 N. J. L. 382, 13 Atl. 502.
New York. Jenricus v. Englert, 137 N. Y. 488, 33 N. E. 550. Pennsylvania. De Bolle v. Pennsylvania Ins. Co., 4 Whart. (Pa.) 68, 33 Am. Dec. 38.
Rhode Island. Woonsocket Rubber Co. v. Banigan, 21 R. I. 146, 42 Atl. 412.
Vermont. Fairchild v. Ins. Association, 51 Vt. 613.
The same view has been expressed in Illinois. Harms v. McCormick. 132 111. 104, 22 N. E. 511; but this has been held incorrect in Webster v. Fleming, 178 111. 140, 52 N. E. 975; Gridley v.