Page images

of both practitioner and student. The author problems of international relations which he has achieved a conciseness and clearness of made peculiarly his own. As the title of the statement which add to the value of his work' volume infers, the more important writings of and enable him to set forth the law in a wonder-Grotius and their pre-eminent place in legal fully small number of propositions. In this literature are considered in their relation to the respect his work is a model for the more diffuse circumstances of the time and their effect on legal authors to imitate.

the international law of succeeding times.

A Manual of Roman Private Law. By W. W. The Law of Property Acts, 1922 to 1925, with a

Buckland, LL.D. 1925. Cambridge : UniComplete Index and Tables. By 'Hugh Pollock, M.A., of Lincoln's Inn, Barrister

versity Press. Price 16s. net. at-Law. 1925. London: Solicitors' Law

All teachers of Roman law will feel indebted Stationery Society Ltd. Price 258.

to Professor Buckland for providing them, in This work does not aspire to be an exposition this work, with a text-book which combines the of the new system of conveyancing and law of necessary clearness and brevity with

that high property introduced in England by the legis- standard of scholarship which the author's name lation of last year. It is, however, a useful guarantees. The Manual is designed for bereprint of the statutes which embody that ginners in the study of Roman law, and deals drastic legal reform, and as such it will prove of the law. Matters which are still topics of

particularly with the classical and later periods a welcome addition to the solicitor's library: controversy are naturally omitted ; but the It includes the Law of Property Act, the treatment is sufficiently full and complete for Settled Land Act

, the Land Registration Act, the purposes of the ordinary law student. the Trustee Act, and the Administration of Estate Act, all passed in 1925, as well as certain unrepealed parts of earlier Acts on cognate Trial of Ronald True. Edited by Donald topics. A most important and valuable part Carswell, Barrister-at-Law. Notable British of the work is an exhaustive and carefully

Trials. 1925. Edinburgh and London : compiled index to these statutes. It may be Wm. Hodge & Co. Ltd. Price 10s. 60. net. doubted whether any professional body has ever been asked to absorb such an amount of drastic The long-standing difference between the new law as the English solicitors require to use legal and the medical professions on the relations in their daily practice as the result of the legis- of insanity to crime are well illustrated in the lation of last year. It is only by such handy murder trial recorded in these pages. That, aids as this work affords that the undertaking indeed, constitutes the sole interest in the can possibly be accomplished.

volume. That Ronald True was insane every accepted sense of the term hardly admits

of doubt—was, indeed, hardly disputed by the The Life and Works of Hugo Grotius. By prosecution. But was his insanity of such a

W. S. M. Knight, Barrister-at-Law. The kind as to free him of criminal responsibility for Grotius Society Publications, No. 4. 1925. the particular crime which he committed ? London : Sweet & Maxwell Ltd. Price Was he incapable of knowing " the nature and 10s. 6d. net.

quality of the act”? These were the questions

which the law propounded, and to which the Grotius has been for long far too much the prosecution answered in the negative. The misunderstood idol of our jurists. His principal English law is burdened with the weight of works, in ponderous form and in a dead language, certain alleged principles laid down nearly sixty accumulate dust upon our bookshelves ; a few years ago as the “Rules in M‘Naughton's Case," stock quotations appear in all our standard the nature and origin of which are admirably works on international law. But of who he expounded by the editor of this volume. Unable was and what he did there is not the general to free themselves from the incubus of these knowledge which there ought to be. Much of * Rules,” the Court of Criminal Appeal refused this unfortunate lack of sound information is to interfere with the conviction of True, and it due to the want of an adequate biography of the was left to the Home Secretary to assign the man in our own tongue. Now Mr Knight has more appropriate conclusion to the drama in set himself to supply the want. In a volume the form of a criminal lunatic asylum. The of manageable size, not overburdened with editor has performed his work with skill, and detail, he has given us a portrait of the man has provided in his Introduction a learned and set in the environment of his own time, which interesting treatment of the medico-legal quesshews the sources of his interest in those tions involved in the case.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



Lord Chancellor is reported as having said :

“As regards Dr Bond, he (the Lord Chancellor) By Theo. SOPHIAN, of the Inner Temple, felt no doubt whatever that the Court of Appeal Barrister-at-Law.

was right in ordering a new trial. It was not The decision of the House of Lords in Harnett disputed that, on the assumption that the v. Bond (41 T.L.R. 509) has an important findings of the jury as to the appellant's mental bearing on the law with regard to remoteness condition on 14th December 1912 were correct, of damage. In that case the plaintiff, who had Dr Bond had no right to cause the appellant already been received by the defendant Adam to be detained at the office pending the arrival under a reception order as a private patient at of Dr Adam's car, and was liable for damages his home in Malling Place, was subsequently for that illegal detention. But those damages permitted by him to be absent on trial for a must, on the authorities, be confined to such period under section 55 (3) of the Lunacy Act, as the direct consequences of the 1890. The plaintiff, a few days later, called at wrong committed ; and to hold that the the offices of the Commissioners in Lunacy. detention of the appellant at the offices for a He was there interviewed by the defendant few hours was the direct cause, not only of his Bond, who, having arrived at an unfavourable being retaken and conveyed to Malling Place, opinion of the mental condition of the plaintiff, but also of his being confined in that and other immediately communicated with the defendant houses until October 1921, appeared to him to Adam. The latter, according to the evidence, be impossible. Dr Bond could not and did not replied that he would send a car and two direct or authorise Dr Adam to retake the attendants to fetch the plaintiff. Pending the appellant and confine him at Malling Place; arrival of the car, the plaintiff was detained in the retaking and confining were the independent a room by the defendant Bond, and he was acts of Dr Adam, and each of them was a novus subsequently removed to Malling Place. He actus interveniens sufficient to break the chain was there examined by the defendant Adam, of causation. Further, the confinement of the and detained by him under the previous appellant could not have continued during reception order. These events occurred in nine years without repeated examination and 1912, and from that time until the time of his recertification by the proper authorities; and escape in 1921 the plaintiff was detained at for the consequences of those events Dr Bond various places as the result of examinations and could not on any intelligible principle be held reports made by various other persons. to be responsible.

The jury found as a fact that the plaintiff The principle of the law is clear that only was not of unsound mind, that Dr Bond did not that damage recoverable which is the direct honestly believe that the plaintiff was of unsound consequence of the wrongful act; or, in other mind, or that he was unfit to be at large, or words, the law is only concerned with proximate that he was dangerous to himself or others. In damage and not with damage that is remote. these circumstances and on these findings it These principles and the difficulty of applying was clear that the plaintiff was entitled at law them to the particular facts of each case are to recover from Dr Bond damages in respect admirably illustrated in Weld Blundell v. of his detention at the offices of the Commis- Stephens ([1920] A.C. 956). In that case the sioners in Lunacy, but the question which the plaintiff had employed the defendant, a chartered House of Lords was eventually called upon to accountant, to investigate the affairs of a comdecide was whether Dr Bond was also liable in pany in which he was interested. The plaintiff respect of the whole or any part of the sub- wrote a letter to the defendant which contained sequent detention of the plaintiff until his libellous statements concerning two officials escape in 1921.

of the company. The defendant handed the The answers of the jury to the questions put letter to his partner, who negligently left it at to them with regard to this part of the case the offices of the company. The letter was must be carefully noted. They found, in effect, found by the manager, who read it and comthat Dr Bond caused the plaintiff to be sent municated its contents to the officials concerned. back to Malling Place for the purpose of his An action for libel was brought against the being detained there, and not solely for the plaintiff, and damages were awarded against purpose of being examined by Dr Adam, and him. It was nevertheless held by a majority that Dr Bond, in effect, caused the plaintiff of the House of Lords that the damages and to be taken back to Malling Place. Notwith-costs which the plaintiff had to pay in the libel standing these findings, the House of Lords action did not flow from, and were not the result decided that Dr Bond was in no way responsible of, the defendant's breach of duty. for the detention of the plaintiff beyond, at The principle to be derived from Weld most, that point of time when the plaintiff was Blundell v. Stephens may therefore be stated as examined by Dr Adam. In his judgment the being that the liability for a wrong stops where

[ocr errors]

the chain of causation as regards the con- Scrubton stated the law to be as follows: “To sequences flowing from the wrong is broken by determine whether an act is negligent it is what has been aptly called a novus actus in- relevant to determine whether any reasonable terveniens, i.e. the voluntary act of a free person would foresee that the act would cause agent over whom the original tortfeasor has no damage; if he would not, the act is not control, and for whose acts he is not answer- negligent. But if the act would or might able” (Ward y. Weeks, 7 Bingham at p. 215). probably "cause damage, the fact that the

Applying this test to the facts in Harnett v. damage it in fact causes is not the exact kind Bond, the House of Lords held that the chain of damage one would expect is immaterial, so of causation was broken at several points- long as the damage is in fact directly traceable firstly, by the examination and subsequent to the negligent act, and not due to the operadetention of the plaintiff by Dr Adam, who was a tion of independent causes having no connection novus actus interveniens; and subsequently by with the negligent act, except that they could said later examinations and reports made by not avoid its results. Once the act is negligent various other persons, as a result of which the the fact that its exact operation was not foreplaintiff's confinement was continued.

seen is immaterial.” Again, Lord Justice WarThe decision at which the House of Lords rington in the same case (at p. 575) said : The arrived in Harnett v. Bond is all the more presence or absence of reasonable anticipation important because the jury expressly found as of damage determines the legal quality of the a fact that Dr Bond caused the plaintiff to be act as negligent or innocent. If it be thus sent back to Malling Place for the purpose of determined to be negligent, then the question being detained there. Now, the general rule whether particular damages are recoverable of law is that a person will be responsible for depends only on the answer to the question all the consequences which he actually intends; whether they are the direct consequence of the and, in view of the above finding of the jury, act." it is clear that one of the consequences intended If the submission made above is correct, viz. by Dr Bond must have been the subsequent that Harnett v. Bond is an authority for the detention of the plaintiff at Malling Place, proposition that a person is not responsible and yet the House of Lords decided that this for consequences which are not caused directly was a consequence which was too remote. Is by his own acts, even though he may have the true principle to be inferred from this decision intended those consequences, intention will to that unless a consequence of an act is in effect a large extent become an irrelevant consideration direct the mere fact of intending that con- in determining whether damage is proximate sequence is immaterial ? At any rate, there is or remote. On the one hand, there will be the authority for the contrary proposition of law type of case illustrated by In re Polemis, where that if certain consequences directly flow from liability will attach in respect of consequences a wrongful act, it is no defence to allege that directly resulting from the wrongful act, even those consequences were not and could not though those consequences were not and could possibly have been foreseen. Thus, in In re not possibly have been foreseen; on the other Polemis v. Furness, Withy & Co. Ltd. ([1921) hand, there will be the type of case illustrated 3 K.B. 560), a charter-party contained an by Harnett v. Bond, where, although a person exception clause with regard to fire. The ship intends and desires a certain consequence, yet, was loaded with a cargo, inter alia, of benzene nevertheless, that consequence will be too remote and petrol. During the voyage the tins leaked, in law, because, for instance, it requires for its and in consequence there was a considerable production the intervention of a third person quantity of petrol vapour in the hold. At one over whom the original wrongdoer has no conof the ports of call, through the negligence of trol, and for whose acts he is not answerable. the stevedores, a heavy plank fell into the hold It must be remembered, however, that the in which the petrol was stored, as a result of intervening act of a third person may be such which an explosion occurred and the vessel as not to amount to a break in the chain of was totally destroyed by fire. It was held by causation, though in practice it appears exthe Court of Appeal that the exception clause ceedingly difficult to determine whether this did not protect the charterers against loss by is so. fire caused by the negligence of their servants, Two well-known cases may be cited in illusand that the charterers were liable inasmuch as tration, viz. Scott v. Shepherd, the squib case the fall of the board was due to the negligence (1 Sm. L.C. (12 ed.) 513), and Clark v. Chambers of the charterers' ser vants, the charterers being (1878, 3 Q.B.D. 327). In Scott v. Shepherd liable for all the direct consequences of the the liability of the person who originally threw negligent act, even though those consequences the lighted squib may be explained on the could not have been reasonably anticipated. ground that the acts of the various persons In his judgment (at p. 577) Lord Justice who threw the squib away from themselves were not the voluntary acts of free agents, such who were a private limited company, of which acts being done entirely in defence either of the defendant Kerman was a director, The person or property; and Clark v. Chambers series of transactions was not simplified by the appears to fall within the same principle. facts that the third and fourth loans were But in Harnett v. Bond the subsequent deten- obtained from different money-lenders, and the tion of the plaintiff by Dr Adam was entirely a fourth loan was brought into account to satisfy voluntary act on Dr Adam's part, since he was in the amount alleged to be owing on the third no way obliged by reason of anything said and loan. The plaintiff alleged that by 28th done by the defendant Bond to keep the February 1925 she had repaid £246, 2s. 6d. in plaintiff in restraint.

respect of the fourth bill, but the defendants M. Dunn Ltd. still demanded the sum of

£158, 4s. 10d. in satisfaction. The plaintiff MONEY-LENDING TRANSACTIONS. thereupon applied to the Court, under the

Money-Lenders Act, 1900, to reopen all four By Hon. D. MESTON, of Lincoln's Inn,

transactions; to take an account between her Barrister-at-Law.

and the respective defendants; and to be reThe recent case of Garde v. Kerman and Others lieved from the payment of any sum in excess (reported in the "Times," 26th June) does not of the amount fairly due in respect of principal, raise any new point of law under the Money- interest, and charges on the four transactions. Lenders Acts, but it provides a good illustration Now the most important feature of a moneyof the harsh and devious practices which are lending transaction is generally the rate of sometimes adopted by professional money interest charged on the loan. In this and lenders. The facts of the case may be stated other respects section 1 (1) of the Moneybriefly as follows: The plaintiff was a woman Lenders Act, 1900, provides that:

" Where in a satisfactory business position, being em- proceedings are taken in any court by a moneyployed by a responsible firm at an income lender for the recovery of any money lent which varied from £600 to £1000 per annum. or the enforcement of any agreement She borrowed money from two different regis- or security ...., and there is evidence which tered money-lenders on four different occasions satisfies the court that the interest charged altogether, namely:

in respect of the sum actually lent is excessive, (1) In February 1922 she borrowed on the or that the amounts charged for expenses, sewurity of a bill of sale on her furniture the inquiries, fines, bonus, premium, renewals, or sum of £200, from which 11 guineas were any other charges, are excessive, and that, in deducted for expenses; interest was made either case, the transaction is harsh and unpayable on the loan at the rate of 60 per cent. conscionable, or is otherwise such that a court of per annum, and it was arranged that the equity would give relief, the court may reopen principal and accruing interest should be repaid the transaction, and take an account between by monthly instalments of £20 : (2) In July the money-lender and the person sued, and may, , 1922 she borrowed £200 on the security of a notwithstanding any statement or settlement second bill of sale on her furniture. The of account or any agreement purporting to plaintiff then repaid the defendants £150 (from close previous dealings and create a new obligawhich £5 were deducted for costs) in respect of tion, reopen any account already taken between the balance said to be due on the first bill : (3) In them, and relieve the person sued from payment January 1923 she again borrowed £200 on the of any sum in excess of the sum adjudged by security of a third bill of sale on her furniture, the court to be fairly due in respect of such the rate of interest on the loan being 60 per principal, interest, and charges, as the court, cent. The plaintiff then repaid the defendants having regard to the risk and all the circumstances, £140 (from which £5 were deducted for costs) may adjudge to be reasonable ; and if any such in respect of the balance said to be owing on the excess has been paid, or allowed in account, second bill : (4) In October 1923 she obtained by the debtor, may order the creditor to repay à further loan of £230 on the security of a it. fourth bill of sale. The plaintiff then repaid It will be observed that the above section the defendants £150 (from which £5, 5s. were confers upon the Court a very wide discretion deducted for costs) to satisfy the balance said in the matter of relieving a borrower who has to be owing on the third bill. Under the fourth made an unprofitable bargain with a professional bill of sale the principal and interest accruing money-lender. The exercise of this discretion, were to be discharged by monthly instalments however, is not arbitrary, but conforms to of £15.

certain broad general principles. It may be of The first three bills were made in favour of interest, therefore, to enunciate those principles. the defendant Kerman, while the fourth bill In the first place, there is a distinction was granted to the defendants M. Dunn Ltd., between “unsecured and “ secured " loans.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


Now the value of a security may generally be loan, with interest at the above rate, and costs. appraised with approximate accuracy, but the In that case the security was personal, and the solvency of a borrower who has only his personal general financial position of the borrower might security to offer must always be a matter of fairly be described as unsteady but not actually considerable speculation. As Lord Macnagh-perilous. Then, in Wheatley v. Part (27 T.L.R. ten said in Salamon v. Salamon ([1897] A.C. at 303), the defendant borrowed £150 from the p. 53): “It is as easy to gauge the solvency of plaintiff, a registered money-lender, on the an individual as to estimate the financial security of a promissory note for £250, of which ability of a crowd." As a general rule people £100 was payable in three months' time, and the only have recourse to money-lenders when they remaining £150 another three months later. have exhausted every means of obtaining ac- The note contained the usual default clause, and commodation elsewhere. Assurances given by the borrower made default in payment of the expectant borrowers as to their financial first instalment. A writ was thereupon served position in such dire straits are notoriously on the defendant, and judgment was signed unreliable, and the difference in the risk be- against him in default of appearance. After tween unsecured and

loans two or three weeks bankruptcy proceedings requires no further explanation. And between were taken. The defendant then realised the the wholly "unsecured " loan and the fully gravity of the position and consulted a solicitor,

, and satisfactorily “secured loan there are with the result that the judgment signed innumerable degrees of partially secured loans. against the defendant was stayed upon the It is therefore impossible to lay down any payment of £150 into Court. In addition, the general rule of application to assist the Court in defendant paid into Court the sum of £20, 118. determining the rate of regarded as reasonab. Interest which may be 9d., being interest at the rate of 30 per cent. and each case must be decided on its own was the younger son of a gentleman in fair merits. In this respect there have been a circumstances. At the time of borrowing the number of important judicial decisions which money he was twenty-one and a half years of serve to illustrate the difficulty of the problem. age, and had been placed in a motor business Thus, in Fortescue Ltd. v. Bradshaw (27 T.L.R. with a view to making a start in life. In this 251), the defendant borrowed the sum of £700 business he held 900 £1 shares, and these facts on the security of two promissory notes, were communicated by him to the lender at amounting to £1200, payable in monthly the time of making the loan. In giving judginstalments of £100. Thé notes contained the ment, Pickford J. remarked upon the difficulty usual default clause, providing that, on failure of giving a satisfactory decision in cases of this to pay any instalment, the whole balance kind. He upheld the 30 per cent. rate of remaining unpaid should become due and interest paid by the defendant in respect of payable immediately. The defendant made the loan. The learned judge, however, condefault in paying the third instalment. On the sidered that the case was near the border-line, assumption that the instalments were faithfully and that, therefore, the money-lender should paid, the rate of interest worked out at 220 per not be penalised for testing the matter. On cent. But in case of default in the first instal- those grounds Pickford J. gave judgment for ment the rate of interest reached the staggering the defendant, but without costs. In the above figure of 1003 per cent. At the time of obtain case the borrower merely offered his personal ing the loan the defendant was receiving a security, and his financial position was poor. salary of £400 as director of a brewery, and He was young and inexperienced, but it is not was possessed of considerable further private unfair to assume that the plaintiff had dealt means, encumbered to the extent of £500 for a with him in the hope of bringing pressure to bank overdraft; and his household furniture bear upon the defendant's relatives to pay the was insured for £4000. At the same time he amount of the loan. So much for “ unsecured” also owed £1500 to other money-lenders, and loans. But a very different picture is presented his pecuniary difficulties were generally due to by the case of Kruse v. Seeley ([1924] 1 Ch. 136). betting. Taking into consideration the finan. In this case the plaintiff, à married lady, cial circumstances of the defendant, the fact borrowed £300 from a registered money-lender that he owed £1500 to other money-lenders, on the security of a promissory note for £500, that he was a gambler, and that he understood repayable in twenty-four consecutive monthly perfectly well the nature of the transaction and instalments. The interest charged on the loan preferred to pay a high rate of interest to was at the rate of ls. in the £1 per month. granting a bill of sale on his furniture, the The customary default clause provided that Court (Pickford J.) considered that 50 per cent. on default of any instalment the whole amount per annum was a fair rate of interest, and gave remaining unpaid should become

due. In judgment for £700, being the balance of the addition to giving the promissory note, the

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »