Thompson v London, Midland and Scottish Rly Co

Last updated
Thompson v London, Midland and Scottish Rly Co Ltd
Darwen railway station - geograph.org.uk - 2071996.jpg
CourtCourt of Appeal
Keywords
Contract, exclusion clause

Thompson v London, Midland and Scottish Railway Co Ltd [1930] 1 KB 41 is an English contract law case, concerning the exclusion of liability. It was described by Lord Denning MR in George Mitchell (Chesterhall) Ltd v Finney Lock Seeds Ltd as part of "a bleak winter for our law of contract." [1] Although the same decision would not be reached today because of the application of the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977, English courts continue to assess on an objective basis whether reasonable notice has been given of terms and conditions so as to incorporate them in the contract.

English contract law Law of contracts in England and Wales

English contract law is a body of law regulating contracts in England and Wales. With its roots in the lex mercatoria and the activism of the judiciary during the industrial revolution, it shares a heritage with countries across the Commonwealth, and to a lesser extent the United States. It is also experiencing gradual change because of the UK's membership of the European Union and international organisations like Unidroit. Any agreement that is enforceable in court is a contract. Because a contract is a voluntary obligation, in contrast to paying compensation for a tort and restitution to reverse unjust enrichment, English law places a high value on ensuring people have truly consented to the deals that bind them in court.

<i>George Mitchell (Chesterhall) Ltd v Finney Lock Seeds Ltd</i>

George Mitchell (Chesterhall) Ltd v Finney Lock Seeds Ltd [1982] EWCA Civ 5 and [1983] 2 AC 803 is a case on the sale of goods and exclusion clauses. It was decided under the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 and the Sale of Goods Act 1979.

Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977

The Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom which regulates contracts by restricting the operation and legality of some contract terms. It extends to nearly all forms of contract and one of its most important functions is limiting the applicability of disclaimers of liability. The terms extend to both actual contract terms and notices that are seen to constitute a contractual obligation.

Contents

Facts

Mrs Thompson slipped on a ramp while disembarking a train operated by London, Midland and Scottish Railway at 10pm, from Manchester to Darwen, and was injured. The train had pulled up just past the platform, and so the ramp she stepped out on was slippery. A special jury found the railway to have been negligent, and so Mrs Thompson sought damages for personal injury. She had been given an excursion ticket by her niece, which said ‘Excursion. For conditions see back’ which in turn referred to the Railway’s timetables and excursion bills. The timetables could be bought for sixpence said the tickets were issued on condition that holders ‘shall have no rights of action against the company .... in respect of .... injury (fatal or otherwise) .... however caused.’ A jury found that the company had not taken reasonable steps to bring the conditions to the notice of Mrs Thompson and awarded damages. But then the judge, as a matter of law, held that when the ticket was accepted the contract was complete, and so the jury was not entitled to find as they did. Mrs Thompson could not read.

London, Midland and Scottish Railway British “Big 4” railway company, active 1923–1947

The London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) was a British railway company. It was formed on 1 January 1923 under the Railways Act of 1921, which required the grouping of over 120 separate railways into four. The companies merged into the LMS included the London and North Western Railway, Midland Railway, the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, several Scottish railway companies, and numerous other, smaller ventures.

Manchester City and metropolitan borough in England

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 545,500 as of 2017. It lies within the United Kingdom's second-most populous built-up area, with a population of 2.7 million. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority is Manchester City Council.

Darwen market town in Lancashire, UK

Darwen is a market town and civil parish located in Lancashire, England. Along with its northerly neighbour, Blackburn, it forms the Borough of Blackburn with Darwen — a unitary authority area. It is known locally as "Darren" and its residents are known as "Darreners". The main road through Darwen is the A666 towards Blackburn to the north and Bolton to the south, and ultimately at the Pendlebury boundary with Irlams o' th' Height where it joins the A6, about 21 miles (34 km) north-west of Manchester. Darwen's population decreased to 28,046 in 2011 and is made up of five wards.

Judgment

Lord Harnworth MR held that, regardless of whether Mrs Thompson could read, she was bound by the contract, and the indication of further conditions by reference was sufficient notice. He said ‘we feel no difficulty in coming to a conclusion.’

Ernest Pollock, 1st Viscount Hanworth British politician

Ernest Murray Pollock, 1st Viscount Hanworth, KBE, PC was a British Conservative politician, lawyer and judge. He served as Master of the Rolls from 1923 to 1935.

Lawrence LJ and Sankey LJ concurred.

See also

Notes

  1. [1982] EWCA Civ 5

Related Research Articles

English tort law

English tort law concerns the compensation for harm to people's rights to health and safety, a clean environment, property, their economic interests, or their reputations. A "tort" is a wrong in civil, rather than criminal law, that usually requires a payment of money to make up for damage that is caused. Alongside contracts and unjust enrichment, tort law is usually seen as forming one of the three main pillars of the law of obligations.

Freedom of contract is the freedom of private or public individuals and groups to form nonviolent contracts without government restrictions. This is opposed to government restrictions such as minimum- or maximum-wage laws, competition laws, economic sanctions, restrictions on price fixing, or restrictions on contracting with second-class citizens or undocumented workers. The freedom to contract is the underpinning of laissez-faire economics and is a cornerstone of free-market libertarianism. Through freedom of contract, individuals possess a general freedom to choose with whom to contract, whether to contract or not, and on which terms to contract.

<i>Parker v South Eastern Rly Co</i>

Parker v South Eastern Railway [1877] 2 CPD 416 is a famous English contract law case on exclusion clauses where the court held that an individual cannot escape a contractual term by failing to read the contract but that a party wanting to rely on an exclusion clause must take reasonable steps to bring it to the attention of the customer.

In English law, remoteness is a set of rules in both tort and contract, which limits the amount of compensatory damages for a wrong.

<i>Beswick v Beswick</i>

Beswick v Beswick[1967] UKHL 2, [1968] AC 58 was a landmark English contract law case on privity of contract and specific performance. The House of Lords disagreed with Lord Denning MR's dicta in the Court of Appeal that a non-signatory or non-party specifically intended to benefit from a contract could enforce it. Such enforceability depended on any given case being one of the established exceptions to this rule, the doctrine of privity of contract.

<i>Olley v Marlborough Court Ltd</i>

Olley v Marlborough Court Hotel [1949] 1 KB 532 is an English contract law case on exclusion clauses in contract law. The case stood for the proposition that a representation made by one party cannot become a term of a contract if made after the agreement was made. The representation can only be binding where it was made at the time the contract was formed.

<i>Thornton v Shoe Lane Parking Ltd</i>

Thornton v Shoe Lane Parking Ltd[1970] EWCA Civ 2 is a leading English contract law case. It gives a good example of the rule that a clause cannot be incorporated after a contract has been concluded, without reasonable notice before. Also, it was held that an automatic ticket machine was an offer, rather than an invitation to treat.

<i>Baird Textile Holdings Ltd v Marks & Spencer plc</i>

Baird Textile Holdings Ltd v Marks & Spencer plc [2001] EWCA Civ 274 is an English contract law case on the possibility of an implied contract after a course of dealings between two businesses.

Baltic Shipping Company v Dillon

Baltic Shipping Company v Dillon, the Mikhail Lermontov case, is a leading Australian contract law case, on the incorporation of exclusion clauses and damages for breach of contract or restitution for unjust enrichment.

Thake v Maurice [1986] QB 644 is an English contract law case, concerning the standard of care that must be exercised by surgeons in performing operations.

In English contract law, an innominate term is an intermediate term which cannot be defined as either a "condition" or a "warranty".

<i>Morris v CW Martin & Sons Ltd</i>

Morris v CW Martin & Sons Ltd [1966] 1 QB 716 is an English tort law case, establishing that sub-bailees are liable for the theft or negligence of their staff. Both Lord Denning and Lord Diplock rejected the idea that a contract need exist for a relationship of bailor and bailee to be found. Accordingly, it established an authority in vicarious liability, that employers are fully liable for the thefts - by employees - of goods that they have a duty to take care of.

Incorporation of terms in English law is the inclusion of terms in contracts formed under English law in such a way that the courts recognise them as valid. For a term to be considered incorporated it must fulfil three requirements. Firstly, notice of the terms should be given before or during the agreement of the contract. Secondly, the terms must be found in a document intended to be contractual. Thirdly, "reasonable steps" must be taken by the party who forms the term to bring it to the attention of the other party. The rules on incorporating terms in English law are almost all at a common law level.

<i>OBrien v MGN Ltd</i>

O’Brien v MGN Ltd [2001] EWCA Civ 1279 is an English contract law case, concerning incorporation of terms through reasonable notice.

<i>Oscar Chess Ltd v Williams</i>

Oscar Chess Ltd v Williams [1957] EWCA Civ 5 is an English contract law case, concerning the difference between a term and a representation.

<i>Hurst v Picture Theatres Ltd</i>

Hurst v Picture Theatres Ltd [1915] 1 KB 1 is an English land law case, concerning licences "in" land, specifically ticketed events. The appeal court confirmed that there is no right, based on e.g. land owner's discretion as to determining trespassers, to remove the attendee if the venue operator is mistaken as to the attendee's right to attend.

Anglo Continental Holidays Ltd. v. Typaldos Lines (London) Ltd. is a notable English legal case with a judgement by Lord Denning which clarified much of he common law relating to small print conditions.

<i>Edwards v Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust</i>

Edwards v Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Botham v Ministry of Defence[2011] UKSC 58 is a UK labour law case, concerning wrongful dismissal.

References