Baird v. Glasgow & South Western Railway, 1873

type: Companies - litigation

The Glasgow Herald
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Baird v. Glasgow & South Western Railway

Important Decision to Carriers.

This was an action for the recovery of £38, being the value of 2000 gallons of oil belonging to the pursuer and delivered by him to the defenders for carriage from Doura to West Calder. The oil was contained in a tank, mounted upon a waggon, both of which were the property of the pursuer. In course of the proof it was established that the flange of the discharge cock had become loose in course of transit between Doura and Shields Junction; that at Shields Junction the defect was discovered, and the oil leaking in large quantities, but no attempt was made by the servants of the railway company to stop the leak, for the reason, as they explained, that they considered it impossible.

The tank, which had left Doura on 25th October, was not delivered until the 31st, when it was almost empty, it never having been sent past Shields Junction, the Caledonian Railway Company having refused to take it in consequence of its condition. In defence it was pleaded that under the contract, which was one of "haulage," the defenders were not common carriers, and that the loss was entirely attributable to the defect in the tank, for which they were not responsible.

The Sheriff-Substitute (Gebbie) sustained this plea, and assoilzied the defenders. On appeal, Sheriff Bell recalled his Substitute's interlocutor, and decerned for £19 damages and half costs.

In a note to his interlocutor, Sheriff Bell remarked that if there had been nobody to do anything at Shields Junction, the station at Glasgow was only half-a-mile farther on, where assistance could have been immediately obtained and the evil remedied; and upon the law of the case the Sheriff stated that it was quite settled that a carrier who was carrying another person's goods was not entitled to sit with his hands across and see them perish, if a little exertion on his part could save them. See Notara, 5, Queen's Bench; also the case of Beck, referred to by the Sheriff-Substitute, in which Chief-Justice Ellenborough said it appeared that the waggoner was informed more than once of the leakage, after which notice it was a duty he owed to his employers to have the leakage examined and stopped at one of the stages where he halted. That being so, the carrier became clearly liable on this ground.

The Glasgow Herald, 8th April 1873