Wright v.Tyne Improvement Commissioners and Anr.

Wright v.Tyne Improvement Commissioners & Anr.

(Implied Warranty, Hiring)


The plaintiff, a docker employed by the second defendants, was engaged in discharging timber from a ship. The second defendants had hired a crane from the first defendants for the purpose of discharging the timber from the ship into wagons. The wagons were under the control of the first defendants and were moved by a capstan driver who was employed by the first defendants. The term of the contract(clause 2) of hiring exempted the owners from any liability whatsoever, howsoever and whensoever caused, directly or indirectly. A load had been slung from the ship and was in the process of being lowered into the wagon which was to receive it. As the load was being raised (in an attempt to clear the workman who was being moved towards it in the moving wagon) it struck him and played some part in overbalancing him out of the wagon. The plaintiff suffered personal injury.


Court of 1st Instance

  1. Plaintiff was awarded damages against the first defendants as being vicariously responsible for the capstan driver’s negligence.
  2. The first defendants sought a complete indemnity against the second defendants in respect of the damages awarded to the plaintiff, relying on clause 2 of the contract. The judge held that clause 2 could not be invoked and dismissed the claim for an indemnity.


Contention: The loss which they sustained in having to pay the damages to the workman fell within the indemnity contained in the clause 2.


There was no blameworthy cause as far as the use of the crane was concerned. The accident arose directly, or at least indirectly, out of or in connection with the use of the crane. If the crane had been out of use and idle, there would have been no accident to the workman. As per clause 2, the  liability to indemnify the owners, therefore, has been established.

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