Broughton and Others against The Company and Proprietors of The Manchester and Salford Water-Works

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date06 November 1819
Date06 November 1819
CourtCourt of the King's Bench

English Reports Citation: 106 E.R. 564


Broughton and Others against The Company and Proprietors of The Manchester and Salford Water-Works. 1

Referred to, Henderson v. Australian Steam Navigation Company, 1855, 5El & Bl. 417; Bateman v. Mid-Wales Railway Company, 1866, L. R. 1 C. P. 509; South of Ireland Colliery Company v. Waddle, 1868, L. R. 3 C. P. 470; 4 C. P. 617.

REPORTS of CASES ARGUED and DETERMINED in the COURT of KING'S BENCH. By RICHARD VAUGHAN BARNEWALL, of Lincoln's Inn, and EDWARD HALL ALDERSON, of the Inner Temple, Esqrs. Barristers at Law. Vol. III. Containing the Cases of Michaelmas, Hilary, Easter, and Trinity Terms, in the 60th of GEORGE III. and 1st of GEORGE IV. 1819, 1820. [1] cases argued and determined in the court of king's bench, in michaelmas term, in the sixtieth year of the eeign of g-eorge III. promotions. In the course of this vacation, Sir Eobert Gifford, Knight, was appointed Attorney-General ; and John Singleton Copley, one of His Majesty's Serjeants at Law, succeeded to the office of Solicitor-General, and was afterwards knighted. broughton and others against the company and proprietors of the manchester and salford water-works.* Saturday, .November 6th, 1819. A corporation, not established for trading purposes, cannot be acceptors of a bill of exchange, payable at a less period than six months from the date; because such a case falls within the provision of the several Acts passed for the protection of the Bank of England, by which it is enacted, that it shall not be lawful for any body corporate to borrow, owe or take up any money upon their bills or notes payable at demand, or at any less time than six months from the borrowing thereof: Quaere, whether any except a trading corporation can bind themselves as parties to a bill of exchange. [Referred to, Henderson v. Australian Steam Navigation Company, 1855, 5 El. & Bl. 417 ; Bateman v. Mid-Wales Railway Company, 1866, L. E. 1 C. P. 509; South of Ireland ~ "' " v. Waddle, 1868, L. E. 3 C. P. 470; 4 C. P. 617.] Declaration in assumpsit by the plaintiffs, as indorsees of a bill of exchange for 2001., accepted by the defendants, and payable at three months from [2] the date. The defendants demurred generally to the declaration, and the plaintiffs joined in demurrer. The case was argued by Campbell, in support of the demurrer. The defendants are created a corporation by a public Act of Parliament. The Court must therefore take notice, that this is an action of assumpsit against a corporation as acceptors of a bill of exchange; but the action cannot be maintained, for the alleged acceptance is a nullity. The general rule is, that a corporation cannot contract unless by deed under the corporation seal. It * The Judges of this Court sat at Serjeants' Inn, on the 25th of October, and succeeding days, when this and several of the following cases were argued. See Vols. I. and II. p. 1. 564 3B.&AtD;& BEOUGHTON V. MANCHESTER WATER-WORKS COMPANY 565 lies upon the plaintiffs to shew, that the acceptance of a bill of exchange is an exception to the general rule, and that all corporations, for whatever purpose created, may be parties to a bill of exchange; but it is quite impossible, for this purpose, to take a distinction between a bill of exchange and a contract for the sale or purchase of goods, or any other simple contract, either by parol or in writing. The stat. 3 & 4 Anne, e. 9, s. 1, speaks of promissory notes made "by any person or persons, body politic or corporate, or by the servant or agent of any corporation;" and it may be admitted, that a corporation may as well be a party to a bill of exchange as to a promissory note. But the statute must be confined to the particular corporations, to whom the power of making promissory notes is expressedly or impliedly given. It might as well be argued, that an idiot or a feme covert may make a promissory note, because the statute mentions promissory notes made " by any person or persons." There are corporations with power to be parties to bills of exchange and promissory notes. The Bank of England and East-India Company are ex-[3]-amples. These corporations may, no doubt, accept bills of exchange by an agent; and they may, in consequence, be sued in assumpsit, as acceptors of these bills of exchange. In Rex v. Bigg (3 P. W. 419. 1 Str. 18), it is taken for granted, that such negotiable instruments may be issued by the Bank of England; and in Edie v. The East India Company (2 Burr. 1216. 1...

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