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Privity is the legal term for a close, mutual, or successive relationship to the same right of property or the power to enforce a promise or warranty. It is an important concept in contract law.

Contract law[edit]

The principle of privity in the common law's law of contract dictates that an individual cannot sue on a contract to which one was not a party. A common example of the principle in operation is that if A (a consumer) buys goods from B (a retailer) and B had originally bought them from C (the manufacturer). If the goods turn out to be faulty, A cannot sue C in contract law because A has no contract with C. B would have to sue C for the faulty goods to establish immunity from A's lawsuit against B.

US federal law[edit]

In the US federal law of res judicata, privity is said to preclude a party to a legal action from raising an issue that either was raised or could have been raised in previous legal action.[1] Under federal law, "concepts summarized by the term privity are looked to as a means of determining whether the interests of the party against whom claim preclusion is asserted were represented in prior litigation."[2] Therefore, privity in federal common law is "a convenient means of expressing conclusions that are supported by independent analysis."[3] Because privity is actually a term to summarize a conclusion that one party was precluded, it "may exist for the purpose of determining one legal question but not another depending on the circumstances and legal doctrines at issue."[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Commissioner v. Sunnen, 333 U.S. 591, 597, 68 S. Ct. 715, 719, 92 L.Ed. 898 (1948).
  2. ^ Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. v. Celotex Corp., 56 F.3d 343, 346 (2nd Cir. 1995).
  3. ^ Meza v. General Battery Corp., 908 F.2d 1262 (5th Cir. 1990).
  4. ^ Chase Manhattan Bank, 56 F.3d at 346.