Parker v South Eastern Railway (1877) 2 CPD 416
Deposit of bag in railway cloak room; effect of exclusion clause on ticket and on notice
Parker paid to leave his bag in the cloakroom of South Eastern Railway (SER). There was a notice within the cloakroom stating that SER would not be responsible for any deposits exceeding £10. in value. The tickets given to customers on making their deposit had the same notice printed on them in legible writing. Parker’s bag exceeded 10l. in value and it was lost or stolen. Parker successfully claimed against SER for his lost bag and SER appealed.
Parker argued he had not seen the notice in the cloak room and had not read the terms on the ticket, but had simply placed it into his pocket believing it to be a mere receipt for his deposited goods. As such, SER should not be able to rely on the exclusion clause because it would be unreasonable to expect customers to know that a receipt for deposited goods contains special conditions. SER claimed it was irrelevant whether Parker had read the notice or the ticket, because a party could still be bound by a contract irrespective of whether he had read its terms. They argued they had taken sufficient steps to bring the terms to customers’ attention.
A re-trial was ordered. The judge’s direction at first instance that Parker was not bound by terms he had failed to read was incorrect. Parker would not be bound by terms he did not know were printed on the ticket, but where he knew there were terms on the ticket, or that there was writing on the ticket, he would be bound providing the jury were satisfied he had been given sufficient notice.