Hill v William Hill (Park Lane) Ltd

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtHouse of Lords
JudgeLord Chancellor,Viscount Simon,Lord Greene,Lord Normand,Lord Oaksey,Lord MacDermott,Lord Radcliffe
Judgment Date29 Jul 1949
Judgment citation (vLex)[1949] UKHL J0729-1

[1949] UKHL J0729-1

House of Lords

Lord Chancellor

Viscount Simon

Lord Greene

Lord Normand

Lord Oaksey

Lord MacDermott

Lord Radcliffe

Hill
and
William Hill (Park Lane) Limited

After hearing Counsel as well on Tuesday the 14th, as on Wednesday the 15th days of June last, upon the Petition and Appeal of Tom Hill, of Ye Olde Chequers Inne, Cutnall Green, near Droitwich, in the County of Worcester, praying, That the matter of the Order set forth in the Schedule thereto, namely, an Order of His Majesty's Court of Appeal of the 13th day of May 1948, might be reviewed before His Majesty the King, in His Court of Parliament, and that the said Order might be reversed, varied or altered, or that the Petitioner might have such other relief in the premises as to His Majesty the King, in His Court of Parliament, might seem meet; as also upon the printed Case of William Hill (Park Lane) Limited, lodged in answer to the said Appeal; and due consideration had this day of what was offered on either side in this Cause:

It is Ordered and Adjudged by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in the Court of Parliament of His Majesty the King assembled, That the said Order of His Majesty's Court of Appeal of the 13th day of May 1948, complained of in the said Appeal, be, and the same is hereby, Reversed, and that Judgment be entered for the Defendant: And it is further Ordered, That the Respondents do pay, or cause to be paid, to the said Appellant, the costs incurred by him in the Courts below, and also the costs incurred by him in respect of the said Appeal to this House, the amount of such last-mentioned costs to be certified by the Clerk of the Parliaments: And it is also further Ordered, That the Cause be, and the same is hereby, remitted back to the King's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice, to do therein as shall be just and consistent with this Judgment.

Lord Chancellor

My Lords,

1

This was an appeal by the defendant in the action, one Tom Hill, from a decision of the Court of Appeal affirming the decision of Hallett, J. The relevant facts lie within a small compass although the point raised is one of difficulty.

2

The Appellant some time before July, 1946, had had betting transactions with the Respondents William Hill (Park Lane) Ltd.: as a result of which he had lost in bets the sum of £3,835 12s. 6d.

3

He did not pay, and following the common practice the case was reported to the Committee of Tattersalls by the Respondents. This Committee heard evidence and adjudicated on the subject matter of the complaint on the 22nd July, 1946.

4

They decided that £3,635 12s. 6d. was due from the Appellant and decided further that this sum ought to be paid by a payment of £635 12s. 6d. within 14 days and the remaining £3,000 by monthly instalments of £100.

5

The discrepancy between the sum of £3,835 12s. 6d. and £3,635 12s. 6d. was due to the fact that £200 of the larger sum had been lost in betting on dog races, over which the Committee of Tattersalls had no concern.

6

It is, of course, clear that this decision of Tattersalls did not create any obligation enforceable at law; all that Committee had done was to fix the amount of the wagers due in respect of horse racing and to give a decision as to the manner in which it would be proper for the Appellant to discharge the amount so fixed.

7

If the Appellant were to fail to pay in accordance with the decision of the Committee of Tattersalls, it might have entailed consequences which would have been unpleasant for him: for at the request of the Respondents Tattersalls' Committee would have reported his failure to the Stewards of the Jockey Club and the Appellant would have been warned off Newmarket Heath and his name would have been posted as a defaulter.

8

We were informed that the Appellant was an owner of race horses, and the result of being so warned off would have been that he would have been prevented from running horses in his own name and would not have been entitled to attend race meetings under the jurisdiction of the Stewards of the Jockey Club: moreover, if he was known to have been posted as a defaulter, it would be unlikely that reputable bookmakers would be willing to accept any bets he might desire to make.

9

Counsel on both sides disclaimed the idea that the Respondents would have been acting harshly or improperly had they decided to report the Appellant if he failed to carry out the decision of Tattersalls' Committee.

10

The threat so to act would no doubt have been intended to bring pressure upon the Appellant to pay; but the cause for so acting would have been so eminently reasonable and proper that I cannot think any question of blackmail arises and I agree with the submission that Counsel on both sides made to us on this point. In fact the Appellant did not pay the £635 12s. 6d. within 14 days of the 26th July, 1946, and the following letters then passed between the parties:—

"Ye Olde Chequers Inne,

Cutnall Green, Nr. Droitwich.

Telephone—Cutnall Green 228.

August 15th. 1946.

Wm. Hill Ltd.,

London.

Dear Sir,

I am sorry that I have not yet been able to comply with the order made against me by Messrs. Tattersalls but as my financial position at the moment is bad I have not been in a position to do so. The best I can do at the moment is to send you a post-dated cheque for the 10th October for £635 12s. 6d. and the rest as agreed by Tattersalls. If you cannot see your way clear to accept this offer, then I am afraid there is nothing else I can do.

Yours faithfully,

Tom Hill."

11

To this letter the Respondents replied by the letter of the 17th August, 1946, in the following terms:—

"Tom Hill, Esq.,

Ye Olde Chequers Inne,

Cutnall Green,

Nr. Droitwich.

Dear Sir,

re Account—£3,835:12:6d.

We have to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 15th instant, in which you state that up to the present you have been unable to comply with the Order of Tattersalls' Committee of the 22nd ultimo. We note your suggestion that you are prepared to forward to us a cheque for £635:12:6d. post-dated to 10th October 1946, the balance of our account of £3,200 to be paid in monthly instalments of £100 as adjudicated by the Committee of Tattersalls.

We agree to your suggestion, and in consideration of your forwarding your cheque for £635:12:6d. post-dated to the 10th October 1946, and of the said cheque being honoured by the bank, and in further consideration of the balance of our account of £3,200 being paid by instalments of £100 commencing November 1946 and each subsequent month thereafter until our account is clear, we on our part will refrain from enforcing the Order made by Tattersalls' Committee on 22nd July 1946.

Yours faithfully,

for William Hill (Park Lane) Limited."

12

The Appellant replied in the following letter of the 20th August, 1946:—

"Ye Olde Chequers Inne,

Cutnall Green, Nr. Droitwich.

Telephone—Cutnall Green 228.

20th Aug. 1946.

Wm. Hill Ltd.,

London.

Dear Sirs,

With reference to your letter of the 17th inst. re account £3,835.12.6. I am enclosing cheque for £635.12.6 post-dated to October 10th as agreed with instalments of £100 per month commencing in Nov. to follow. Thanking you for your helpful consideration in this matter and assuring you that as soon as my financial position improves I shall do all I possibly can to settle this account as soon as possible.

Yours faithfully,

Tom Hill."

13

The letter of the 17th August, 1946, was an offer from the Respondents which was accepted by the Appellant in the letter of the 20th August, 1946, with the result that a contract was concluded in the terms of these letters. It will be observed that the concession as to time for payment provided for in the contract was substantially greater than that which had been allowed by the decision of Tattersalls' Committee: and that so long as payment was made in accordance with this contract, the respondents were precluded from "enforcing the Order made by Tattersalls." In other words, they were precluded from trying to have the Appellant warned off or posted during a period of nearly 3 years which would have been involved in making the payments in accordance with the contract.

14

The post-dated cheque due on the 10th October, 1946, was not honoured. The first payment which was made was an amount of £335 12s. 6d. and this was made on the 19th November, 1946, and was accepted by the Respondents without prejudice to their rights under the contract.

15

The Appellant had made no further payment down to the date of the issue of the Writ, which was specially endorsed. The endorsement was as follows:—

"STATEMENT OF CLAIM

The Plaintiffs' claim is for the sum of £700 0s. 0d. instalments in arrear and payable by the Defendant to the Plaintiffs under an agreement between the Plaintiffs and the Defendant on 20th August 1946.

PARTICULARS

1946

£

s.

d.

10 Oct.

To balance of instalment due on this date

300

0

0

10 Nov.

To instalment due on this date … …

100

0

0

Dec.

To instalment due on this date … …

100

0

0

1947

Jan.

To instalment due on this date … …

100

0

0

Feb.

To instalment due on this date … …

100

0

0

£700

0

0"

16

The only question that falls for decision in this case is whether the contract concluded by the letters of the 17th and 20th August is enforceable at law.

17

It was agreed by Counsel on both sides during the argument that the contract so made was a genuine contract; that it was made for good consideration and that it was not merely a colourable device to obtain payment of a bet: and that it was not a contract "by way of gaming or wagering".

18

The Trial Judge was apparently of the same opinion for he states his view as follows:—

"I think this is a plain case where the Defendant (Appellant) made a fresh bargain in August in consideration of the Plaintiffs (Respondents) refraining...

To continue reading

Request your trial
42 cases

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT