It is not often that Contract Law saves the world, but when it does, it is a doctor conducting the negotiations.

Doctor Stephen Strange stopped Dormammu from destroying life as we know it on Earth by bargaining with him. The key terms included Dr. Strange would end the time loop that had trapped Dormammu in exchange for the safety of Earth. As an added term, Dormammu would accept Kaecilius and his Zealots into his Dark Dimension. The goal of Kaecilius’s plan was to ultimately bring Dormammu’s timeless Dark Dimension to Earth. Would that make Kaecilius a third-party beneficiary to Doctor Strange’s bargain with Dormammu?

Courts have weighed the issue of what are the rights a third person who benefits from a contract, but is neither the promisor nor promisee. The English view was that a third-party had no enforceable rights. See, John Edward Murray, Jr, Murray on Contracts, Third Edition, Copyright 1990, citing Vandepitte v. Preferred Acc. Ins. Corp., A.C., 70 (1933), Tweedle v. Atkinson, 1. B. & S. 393 [1861]; Bourne v. Mason, 1 Ventirs 6 [1669].

The “American” view of third-party beneficiaries was first definitively explained in Lawrence v. Fox 220 N.Y. 268 (1859). As the legal sorcerer Murray explained, Holly (Party A) loaned $300 to Fox (Party B) and told Fox that Holly owned $300 to Lawrence (Party C), who Fox agreed to pay back. Murray on Contracts, page 754, citing Lawrence v. Fox. Lawrence was not paid back, sued, and ultimately recovered, based on the principle that “where one person makes a promise to another for the benefit of a third person, the third person may maintain an action to enforce that promise.” page 755.

Dr. Strange’s bargain included a term that gave Kaecilius exactly what he wanted: timelessness without death in the Dark Dimension. Legally speaking, Kaecilius was a third-party beneficiary of Strange’s contract with Dormammu. Unfortunately for Kaecilius, he should have read the warning about the spell to go to the Dark Dimension.