Fox v London, Midland & Scottish Railway Company Ltd

JurisdictionIreland
CourtSupreme Court (Irish Free State)
Date01 January 1926
Docket Number(1924. No. 10223.)
Fox v. London, Midland, & Scottish Railway Co.
JAMES FOX
and
THE LONDON, MIDLAND, AND SCOTTISH RAILWAY Co. (1)
(1924. No. 10223.)

Supreme Court.

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.

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 recover damages for the loss of the horse through negligence. The jury found, 1, that the defendant's servants were guilty of negligence; 2, that the injury to the horse was not caused solely by his inherent vice; and, 3, that his value was £395. Sullivan P. held that the conditions in the consignment note and waybill for live stock were just and reasonable and binding on the plaintiff, and that the plaintiff was not entitled to recover more than £50. On a motion for a new trial:

Held by the Supreme Court (affirming Sullivan P.), that a charge of 11/4 per cent. upon the declared value of a horse is not an unreasonable addition to the ordinary rate of charge; and it is not unreasonable to require from the person who desires to have exceptionally valuable live stock carried under full liability for their actual value a written declaration of their value, and, where the charge is not prepaid, an undertaking signed by himself or his agent to pay the increased percentage authorised by the statute.

Held also, that the contract of carriage, which was signed by the groom with full knowledge of its contents, and with a direction that the horse was to be carried at the ordinary rate, exempted the railway company from liability for any greater amount than £50.

Held further, that in order to make the railway company liable for the full value of the horse, the declaration of value required by sect. 7 of the Railway and Canal Traffic Act, 1854, must have been made with the intention that a contract would be founded upon it—i.e., that it must have been made with the intention of paying the higher rate, and therefore the statement of value made by the groom to the booking clerk was insufficient for this purpose.

Robinson v. London & South-Western Railway Co., 19 C.B.N.S. 51, approved.

Bradbury v. Sutton, 19 W.R. 800; 21 W.R. 128, considered.

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...

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