Woodman, Matheson Company Ltd v Waterford Corporation

Judgment Date01 January 1939
Date01 January 1939
CourtSupreme Court
(H.C., S.C.),
Woodman, Matheson & Co., Ltd.
Waterford Corporation

Fraud of agent - Liability of principal - Weighbridge owned by local authority - No statutory obligation on local body in respect of weighbridge - Local body exercising a right implied under the tolls and markets powers in their Charter - Goods weighed and weigh-dockets issued to members of the public - Weighbridge in charge of official of local body - Weigh-dockets issued by him when no goods weighed and false dockets given in respect of goods actually weighed - Whether local body liable for the fraudulent acts of official - Scope of authority.

The Waterford Corporation, in exercise of a right implied in the tolls and market powers contained in their Charter, maintained a weighbridge and gave to members of the public who tendered goods to be weighed a docket showing the weight of the goods. Plaintiffs, a firm of wool merchants, used to buy wool from W. and arranged with him to have his loads of wool weighed on the Corporation weighbridge before delivering them at the plaintiffs' store, and agreed to pay him for the amount of wool shown on the docket issued by the Corporation in respect of each load. H., who was assistant weigh-clerk at the Corporation weighbridge, conspired with W.to defraud the plaintiffs by giving W. false weigh-dockets in respect of loads that he had never weighed, inserting in the dockets the weights given to him by W. When these facts became known to the plaintiffs they brought an action against the Corporation, claiming £500 damages. Hanna J. found as a fact that the extent of H.'s authority was to issue dockets in respect of loads weighed by him, and that it was outside the scope of his duty to give dockets for loads he had not weighed, and therefore the defendants were not liable. On appeal, the Supreme Court (Sullivan C.J., FitzGibbon, Murnaghan and Meredith JJ.) affirmed this decision...

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