Kennedy v London Express Newspapers, Ltd

CourtSupreme Court (Irish Free State)
Judgment Date26 March 1931
Date26 March 1931
Docket Number(1930. No. P. 577/30.)
Kennedy v. London Express Newspapers
(1930. No. P. 577/30.)

Supreme Court.

Contract - Construction - Offer by English newspaper company of free accident insurance to their readers - Acceptance of offer by reader in Irish Free State - By what law contract to be governed - Conditions of offer - Disputes to be referred to arbitration - Arbitrator's award a condition precedent to liability - Action brought claiming benefits of the insurance - Motion to stay proceedings - Practice - Common Law Procedure Amendment Act (Ir.), 1856 (19 & 20 Vict. c. 102), sect. 14.

Defendants, an English newspaper company, which publish in England a newspaper that has a certain circulation in the Irish Free State, set out in their issue of January 1st, 1929, an advertisement of a free accident insurance scheme for the benefit of their "registered readers." Under this scheme the sum of £100 was, subject to certain conditions, payable, in the case of the death of a "registered reader," to his or her legal personal representatives. The conditions provided (inter alia) that a "registered reader" must be registered in the books of the newspaper as having given to a registered newsagent a signed order for the newspaper and be receiving it daily from such newsagent, or be a postal subscriber receiving it directly from the publishers; that the insurance would cease on January 8th, 1930; and that, in the event of any dispute arising in relation to the insurance, the dispute should be referred to arbitration, in accordance with the statutory provisions for the time being in force applicable thereto, and the obtaining of an award should be a condition precedent to liability. In the issue of the newspaper of January 1st, 1930, the advertisement of the insurance scheme was repeated for the year 1930, with some modifications, the principal being that the arbitration was to be in London. The advertisement stated that there was no need for readers already registered to re-register.

In January, 1929, the plaintiff's wife was registered as a reader for the purpose of the free accident insurance. In August, 1930, she was accidentally killed by an omnibus, and the plaintiff claimed the £100 payable under the insurance scheme. A correspondence then ensued between the plaintiff's solicitor and the defendants' solicitors. The latter admitted that the plaintiff's wife had been registered as having given to a registered newsagent a signed order for the newspaper, but they denied that she was in receipt of the paper daily, as required by the conditions. They therefore contended that a dispute had arisen which must be referred to arbitration in London. The plaintiff then brought an action, claiming payment of the £100, and the defendants moved to have the proceedings stayed under sect. 14 of the Common Law Procedure Amendment Act (Ir.), 1856.

The defendants admitted that a contract had been made between them and the plaintiff's wife, first in January, 1929, extending over that year, and again in January, 1930, for the year 1930. They disclaimed any question of fraud on the part of the plaintiff.

Held (reversing Sullivan P.) that the action must be stayed to allow of the dispute being determined by an award in an arbitration to be held in London, according to the Irish statutes applicable to, and regulating the procedure of, arbitration, the defendants being bound not to raise in such arbitration any question of fraud or any other matter going to the root of the existence or validity of the contract which for the purpose of such arbitration was to be taken as admitted.

Lowden v. Accident Insurance Co., 43 Ir. L.T.R. 277, applied; Jureidiniv. National British and Irish Millers' Insurance Co., Ltd., [1915] A.C. 499,distinguished.

Appeal from an order of Sullivan P., dated the 16th January, 1931, refusing the defendants' motion to stay proceedings under the Common Law Procedure Amendment Act (Ireland), 1856, in an action brought by the plaintiff claiming the sum of £100, which, he alleged, was payable to him by the defendants, under a free accident insurance scheme advertised in the defendants' newspapers, in respect of the death of his wife.

The facts have been summarised in the head-note, and are fully stated in the judgment of Kennedy C.J.

Cur. adv. vult.

Kennedy C.J :—

This is an appeal from an order of the President of the High Court, made on the 16th of January, 1931, refusing an application of the defendant company that the action be stayed by reason of an alleged agreement to refer any dispute between the parties to arbitration.

The defendant, the London Express Newspaper, Limited, which is an English company, publishes in England a newspaper known as "The Daily Express," which, it appears, has a certain circulation in Ireland. The issue of the paper of the 1st January, 1929, contained an advertisement under the following headings, prominently displayed:—

"Daily Express Free Insurance, 1929.

Great benefits for husband and wife. New children's benefit. Every kind of fatal accident covered. No need to re-register if you have registered after April 25, 1922."

Under these headings there was the following paragraph, introductory to a statement in detail of the insurance benefits offered:—

"The General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation, Limited, of General Buildings, Aldwych, London, W.C. 2, empowered by Special Act of Parliament, will, subject as hereunder, pay to any registered reader of the 'Daily Express' or to the legal personal representatives of such registered reader . . ."

Following this introduction, there was set out in numbered paragraphs a series of insurance benefits, divided into two groups, headed respectively:—"Death Benefits" and "Disablement Benefits."

No. 7 of the "Death Benefits" was stated as follows:—

"(7). £100 in case of death of the reader if he or she, while a pedestrian (a disabled ex-serviceman in a self-propelled vehicle shall be deemed to be a pedestrian) in a thoroughfare open for use by the public, shall be killed by accidental impact with a moving vehicle or with an animal harnessed thereto."

Immediately following the statement of the benefits offered

there was a number of paragraphs headed "Conditions," and introduced by a proviso as follows:—

"Provided always that the whole of this undertaking is subject to the following conditions, which are the essence of the contract, viz., that (unless otherwise stated):—

(a) A registered reader must be duly registered in the books of the 'Daily Express' as having given to a newsagent since April 25th, 1922, a signed order for the 'Daily Express,' and be receiving the 'Daily Express' daily from such newsagent, or be a postal subscriber to the 'Daily Express,' receiving the paper direct from the publishers. Registration must be effected by such reader forwarding to the 'Daily Express' a signed registration coupon duly completed. Such reader must immediately notify the 'Daily Express' by letter or postcard of any change of address and/or newsagent.

(b) The wife or husband of a registered reader permanently residing with him or her shall (subject to the age limits mentioned in Condition (c) (2)) be deemed to be a registered reader for the purpose of this insurance.

(c) [This paragraph limited the application of the insurance to:—

  • (1) Accidents occurring in Great Britain, Ireland, and certain other named places, and

  • (2) To persons between the ages of sixteen and seventy.]

(d) This insurance and all benefits thereunder become operative only for accidents as from midnight on December 31st, 1928, and shall cease on notice being given in the columns of the 'Daily Express,' and in any event it shall cease and determine at midnight on January 8th, 1930.

(e) Notice of claim and/or injury must be given to the General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation, Limited, General Buildings, Aldwych, London, W.C. 2, as soon as possible, but in any event within fourteen days after the accident occurs . . .

(f) The benefits payable in the event of the death of the reader, as before described, will be paid to his or her legal personal representatives on production of proof of title."

Paragraphs (g), (h), (i), (j), (k), (l), (m), and (n) are not relevant to the present case.

"(o) In the event of any dispute between the registered reader or any claimant under this insurance and the Corporation or the...

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