Barrett Bros. (Taxis) Ltd v Davies

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date12 May 1966
Judgment citation (vLex)[1966] EWCA Civ J0512-5
CourtCourt of Appeal
Date12 May 1966
Barrett Bros. (Taxis) Ltd.
Davies and Others
D. Lickiss
First third party Appellant
Milestone Motor Policies at Lloyds
Second third party Respondents

[1966] EWCA Civ J0512-5


The Master of the Rolls

(Lord Denning)

Lord Justice Danckwerts and

Lord Justice Salmon

In The Supreme Court of Judicature

Court of Appeal

From His Honour Judge Angles Bell. Black pool County Court.

MR. J.D. WALKER (instructed by Messrs Collyer-Bristow & Co., Agents for Messrs Payne & Payne, Hull) appeared as Counsel for the Appellant, first third party.

MR. J. M. COLLINS (instructed by Messrs A. W. Mawer & Co.) appeared as Counsel for the Respondents, second third party.


We need not trouble you, Mr. Walker.


On the 17th December, 1964, there was an accident between a taxicab and a motor cycle at Black pool. Both vehicles were damaged. The motor cyclist mas prosecuted for careless driving and fined £5. The motor cyclist was insured against third party liability but not against damage to his own motor cycle. He was insured with Milestone Motor Policies at Lloyds. He seeks to recover the damages he has to pay to the taxi owner. But Lloyds have rejected his claim on the ground that he did not fulfill the conditions of the policy. In particular, because he did not send them the notice of prosecution or the summons.


Under the policy Lloyds agreed in Section 1(a) to indemnify the motor cyclist against damage to property. Section 1(b) said: "The underwriters will pay all legal charges and expenses incurred with their written consent in defending any claim under this section aid will at the insured's request (or may at their option arrange for and pay the fee of a solicitor to represent the insured at any Coroner's inquest or fatal enquiry in respect of any death which may be the subject of indemnity under this section or for defending in any court of summary jurisdiction any proceedings". On the back there were the conditions of the policy. Condition 1 said: "The insured shall give full particulars in writing to Milestone Motor Policies, London House. as soon as possible after the occurrence of any accident, loss or damage and shall forward immediately any letter, notice of intended prosecution, writ, summons or process relating thereto". Condition 13 said: "The due observance and fulfillment of the terms, provisions, conditions and endorsements of this policy in so far as they can apply and the truth of the statements and answers in the proposal form shall be conditions precedent to any liability of the underwriters to make any payment under this policy".


The motor cyclist did not at once tell the insurers about the accident. But the solicitors for the taxicab driverdid so. They got in touch with the motor cyclist's insurers and told them about the accident. The insurers on the 25th May wrote to the motor cyclist and said: "We understand that you were involved in an accident on the 17lh May and we now attach hereto a claim form which we would like you to complete and return to us as soon as possible". This crossed a letter from the motor cyclist. On the 25th May he told the insurers about the accident. He told them that the motor cycle was in the hands of the police and he enclosed a letter from the solicitors for the taxi-cab driver. A few days later he returned the claim form duly filled in.


It turned out that he also received a notice of intended prosecution from the police. Later he received a summons returnable on the 2nd July, 1964, at the Black pool Magistratess' Court. But he did not send those forward to the insurers. In those respects he did not fulfill Condition 1. But we know that the police told the insurers. On the 18th June, 1964, Police Headquarters at Black pool wrote to the Claims Manager of Milestone Motor Policies and said: "We would inform you that proceedings ere pending against the above named" that is "D. Lickiss", the motor cyclist "and the hearing will take place on the 2nd July next in the Black pool Magistratess' Court". So although the motor cyclist had not himself told the insurers about the notice or the summons, the insurers had reliable information from the police themselves.


On the 23rd June Milestone Motor Policies wrote to the motor cyclist and said; "We understand that proceedings are being taken against you on the 2nd July in Black pool Magistratess' Court. It would be appreciated if you would let us know why you have not notified us of these proceedings since we will wish to arrange your defence. We await your comments". The motor cyclist says that he replied and explained that he had written to the Court saying he was pleading guilty, but they say they received no reply.


On the 2nd July the case came before the Magistrates at Black pool, The motor cyclist did not appear but wrote a letter pleading guilty. It appears he belonged to a Trade Union which gave him free legal advice, and they, having considered all the facts, thought it was his own fault. They advised him to plead guilty. So he wrote a letter to the Magistratess' Court and pleaded guilty. He was fined £5. Mo. doubt it was a very wise course for him to take. By pleading guilty by letter he saved a lot of costs and was not away from his work. But he did not tell the insurers about it at the...

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1 firm's commentaries
  • Reasonable endeavours and whether contract requirement was ‘futile’
    • United Kingdom
    • JD Supra United Kingdom
    • 28 April 2017
    ...Astor argued that there is a “principle of futility” in contractual interpretation, relying on Lord Denning MR in Barrett Bros v Davies [1966] 1 WLR 1334 that “the law never compels a person to do that which is useless and Giving judgment, Leggatt J rejected the idea of a principle of futil......
4 books & journal articles
  • Duties of insurance brokers
    • United Kingdom
    • Emerald Journal of Financial Regulation and Compliance No. 12-2, June 2004
    • 1 June 2004
    ...8Ex ch. 819 at 820.(11) Herbert v Railway Passengers Assurance Coper Porter J, 1938 1 All ER 650.(12) Barratt Bros (Taxis) Ltd v Davies [1966] 1WLR 1334.(13) See Pioneer Concrete (UK) Ltd v NationalEmployers Mutual General Insurance Asso-ciation Ltd [1985] 2 All ER 395 followedin Motor & Ge......
  • Insurance Law
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2008, December 2008
    • 1 December 2008 flow from the insured. This was the reasoning which Lord Denning had used in the case of Barrett Bros (Taxis) Ltd v Davies[1966] 1 WLR 1334. 16.18 However, the court pointed out that the English decisions that came after Barrett Bros (Taxis) Ltd v Davies[1966] 1 WLR 1334 had declined to ......
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