Reilly v Beardmore & Company

CourtCourt of Session (Inner House - First Division)
Judgment Date28 January 1947
Docket NumberNo. 27.


No. 27.
Beardmore & Co

NegligenceMaster and ServantBreach of statutory dutyFactoryWorkman injured through parting of cableWhether cable of "adequate strength and free from patent defect"Onus of proofFactories Act, 1937 (1 Edw. VIII and 1 Geo. VI, cap. 67), sec. 23 (1) (a).

The Factories Act, 1937, enacts by sec. 23:"(1) The following provisions shall be complied with as respects every chain, rope or lifting tackle used for the purpose of raising or lowering persons, goods or materials:(a) No chain, rope or lifting tackle shall be used unless it is of good construction, sound material, adequate strength and free from patent defect. "

An employee in a factory, injured owing to the parting of the cable of an overhead crane, brought an action of damages against his employers on the ground that the cable had not complied with the conditions required by sec. 23 (1) (a) of the Act of 1937. He proved that it had been in use for eighteen months, and that, when inspected three days before the accident, it was found to be "frayed," although not at the place where it had given way.

Held that, while the failure of the cable was not per se proof that the Act had not been complied with, the pursuer had discharged the primary onus which lay upon him of proving such non-compliance, and that, in the absence of counter proof by the defenders that the failure was not due to any defect in the cable but to some other cause, their breach of the statutory provision had been established.

Opinion per Lord Moncrieff that the Factories Act, 1937, by sec. 23 (1) (a), imposes an absolute duty on a factory occupier not to use tackle which is not free from patent defect.

Patrick Reilly brought an action of damages against William Beardmore & Company, Limited, in respect of injuries sustained by him while working in the defenders' factory. The action was based on breach by the defenders of their statutory duty to provide safe equipment within the meaning of the Factories Act, 1937,1section 23 (1) (a). The facts appear from the following findings in fact made by the Sheriff-substitute (Guild):"(1) The pursuer is a labourer and resides at 35 Crail Street, Parkhead, Glasgow. (2) The defenders are a limited company and carry on business at Parkhead Forge, Glasgow. (3) Parkhead Forge is a factory within the meaning of the Factories Act, 1937. (4) On or about 27th November 1944 pursuer was in the employment of the defenders at Parkhead Forge, and was one of a squad of men engaged in driving a crosshead on to the shaft of a ship's rudder. [Findings (5) to (14) described how the operation was effected and how in its course the steel cable of a crane parted and resulted in injury to the pursuer.] (15) There is no evidence as to when the cable was put into use, but this must have been before June 1943, and it had been in regular use since that date. (16) The inference in fact to be drawn from the cable having been in regular use for a period of at least eighteen months is that it was of adequate strength when installed. (17) The crane cable was inspected from time to time and it was inspected three days before the accident. (18) The person who inspected the crane cable on 24th November 1944 reported that it was frayed, but that he did not consider that it was in such a condition as to require replacement and did not report that replacement...

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4 cases
  • Galashiels Gas Company Ltd v O'Donnell
    • United Kingdom
    • House of Lords
    • 20 January 1949
    ...fatal accident. 11Finally, Counsel sought to derive assistance from certain observations of the Lord President in the case of Reilly v. William Beardmore & Co. Ld. [1947] S.C. 275. In that case the First Division had to consider Section 23 (1) ( a) of the Act, which provides, "No ......
  • Millar v Galashiels Gas Company
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Session (Inner House - Second Division)
    • 6 February 1948
    ...VI, cap. 67,) is quoted in the rubric. 2 1942 S. C. (H. L.) 51, [1943] A. C. 1. 3 [1943] K. B. 615. 4 Reilly v. Beardmore & Co.SC, 1947 S. C. 275. 5 1 Edw. VIII and 1 Geo. VI, cap. 6 M'Mullan v. Lochgelly Iron and Coal Co.SCELR, 1933 S. C. (H. L.) 64, [1934] A. C. 1. 7 Cole v. Blackston......
  • Ball v Richard Thomas & Baldwins Ltd
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 28 November 1967
    ...ropes". Then in the first column on page 165 the learned judge quotes a passage from the judgment of Lord Moncriff in Reilly v. Boardmore & Company Ltd. (1947) Scots Law Times 147, as follows: "I agree that in discharging that onus it is entirely idle to refer to the supplemen......
  • Doherty v Bowaters Irish Wallboard Mills Ltd
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 11 February 1968
    ...duties and that, accordingly, the defendants' appeal on the issue of liability should be dismissed. Reilly v. Beardmore & Co.SC 1947 S.C. 275 considered. 2. ( Ó Dálaigh ó dálaigh C.J.. and Walsh J. dissentiente). That the amount of the damages assessed by the jury was excessive and that......

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