Fox v London, Midland & Scottish Railway Company Ltd

JurisdictionIreland
CourtSupreme Court (Irish Free State)
Judgment Date01 Jan 1926
Docket Number(1924. No. 10223.)

Supreme Court.

(1924. No. 10223.)
Fox v. London, Midland, & Scottish Railway Co.
JAMES FOX
and
THE LONDON, MIDLAND, AND SCOTTISH RAILWAY Co. (1)

Railway - Carriage of live stock - Conditions limiting liability - Reasonableness - Express statutory limitation of liability - Injury to valuable horse - Declaration of value by sender - Unauthorised declaration by servant - Declaration not made with the intention of forming a contract - Rates for carriage of live stock - Negligence - Railway and Canal Traffic Act, 1854 (17 & 18 Vict. c. 31), sect. 7.

New Trial Motion.

The action was brought by the plaintiff, a breeder and trainer of horses, who resided in the County of Louth, against the defendants for damages for negligence in the carriage of his thoroughbred race horse "Castlering," and for breach of contract to carry the horse safely. The plaintiff had sent "Castlering"in November, 1923, to a well-known trainer near Wolverhampton, who kept the horse until the following July, when the plaintiff instructed the trainer to return the horse. Plaintiff did not instruct the trainer to insure the horse during transit, or to declare the value of the horse at any particular figure. The horse was sent by the trainer from his stables to the defendants' station at Wolverhampton by a groom named Daly. Daly had no instructions or authority from his employer or from the plaintiff to declare the value of the horse or to pay any extra charge by way of insurance. He was simply told to be very careful of the animal, and to book him at ordinary rates. At the station Daly delivered the horse to the foreman porter, to whom he said: "This is 'Castlering,' a valuable horse; keep an eye on him when I book him." At the booking office Daly said to the clerk: "I have got a horse called 'Castlering,' and I want him booked—a very valuable 'chaser, worth £1,000." This valuation had been arrived at by Daly himself from casual gossip. The clerk placed before Daly for completion and signature the defendants' usual form of "Consignment Note and Waybill for Live Stock." On the face of this document there were certain blanks to allow of a description of the route to be followed, the name and address of the sender and consignee, and a description of the stock to be carried, being filled in. Immediately after these blanks the following was printed:—

"See other side.

Declared value, £......................

at 11/4 per cent................

Percentage on £................. (minimum, 3d.)

Notice.

The London and North-Western Railway Company hereby give notice that they are not common carriers of live stock, and that they have in certain cases two rates for the carriage of such traffic, at either of which rates the same may be consigned at the sender's option: one the ordinary rate, charged when the Company accept the live stock for conveyance subject to the conditions on the back hereof; the other a reduced rate, charged when the sender agrees to relieve the Company and all other Companies or persons over whose lines the live stock may pass, or in whose possession the same may be until the delivery thereof, from all liability for loss, damage, or delay, except upon proof that such loss, damage, or delay arose from wilful misconduct on the part of the Companies' servants.

* Here specify whether the live stock is to be conveyed at the ordinary rate or at the reduced rate at owner's risk where such rates apply.

To the London and North-Western Railway Co.

I agree to the above notice, and request that the live stock specified above may be conveyed at the *………… rate upon the terms of such notice and subject to the conditions on the back hereof.

To be filled up by the sender.

.......................
Witness.......................

Owner or person delivering the live stock."

On the back of the consignment note and waybill were printed conditions, amongst which was the following:—

"2. The Company will not in any case be responsible beyond the following sums:—Horses, £50 each . . . unless a higher value be declared at the time of delivery to the Company, and a percentage of 11/4 per cent. (minimum, 3d.) paid on the value so declared in excess of the above-named sums."

Daly had frequently signed similar consignment notes, and was well acquainted with their contents. He signed the one placed before him by the clerk, and filled in the blank space left to enable an owner to specify whether the stock delivered was to be conveyed at the ordinary or at the reduced rate, with the word "ordinary." He did not pay, nor did he offer to pay, any extra charge by way of a percentage on the value of the horse as declared by him, as required by the terms of condition No. 2 of the conditions printed on the back of the consignment note. During transit the horse had a fetlock joint fractured, and in consequence of the injury had to be destroyed.

At the trial, at the close of the evidence given on behalf of the plaintiff, Sullivan P. refused the defendants' application for a direction, and allowed the case to go to the jury to have the damages assessed, in order to avoid the expense of a second trial in the event of his decision being set aside. The questions submitted to the jury and their answers were as follows:—

1. Were the defendants' servants guilty of negligence? Answer: Yes.

2. Was the injury to the horse caused solely by his inherent vice? Answer: No.

3. What was the value of the horse? Answer: £395.

The direction asked for on behalf of the defendants was ultimately given. Sullivan P. held that the terms and conditions of the consignment note and waybill were fair and reasonable and binding on the plaintiff, and that the plaintiff was not entitled to recover more than £50.

A railway company made conditions limiting their liability for loss of or damage to any live stock delivered to them for transit beyond the value—in the case of horses—of £50, unless a higher value was declared in writing at the time of delivery, and a percentage of 11/4 per cent. paid on the value, so declared, in excess of the above-named sum.

A race horse, exceeding £50 in value, was delivered to the railway company for transit by the sender's groom, who had not been instructed to declare the value of the animal at the time of delivery to the company, and was told to forward the horse at the "ordinary rates in the ordinary way."When booking the horse the groom informed the clerk that he had got "a very valuable 'chaser, worth about £1,000"—a figure arrived at by the groom himself from casual gossip. The clerk thereupon placed before the groom the company's form of "consignment note and waybill" for live stock to complete and sign. The groom filled this in for the carriage of the horse at the ordinary rate, and signed it, with full knowledge of its Contents. The horse was injured in transit, and had to be destroyed. The owner of the horse sued the company to...

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