Roles v Pascall & Sons

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal

Employer and Workman - Compensation - Reasonable Cause for not giving Notice - Mistake - Ignorance of Existence of Act - Workmen's Compensation Act, 1906 (6 Edw. 7, c. 58), s. 2.

Ignorance on the part of a workman of the existence of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1906, and of any right to compensation for an accident arising out of his employment, is not a “mistake” nor a “reasonable cause” for not giving notice of an accident within the meaning of s. 2 of the Act.

THE applicant in this case was a carman in the occupation of the respondents. On July 15, 1909, he was leading a horse and van loaded with bricks on soft ground when the horse plunged, the harness broke, and the applicant was thrown to the ground and injured his left hip. He continued in his employment for some weeks, but his hip got worse and he was unable to go on working. From August 19 to November 13 he was attended by his own doctor, who treated him for sciatica. He afterwards went to Guy's Hospital, and the doctors there diagnosed his case as traumatic arthritis caused by his accident. He gave verbal notice of his accident to his employers on April 27, 1910, and made a claim in writing on June 22, 1910. The reason given by the applicant for failure to give notice of the accident or to make his claim for compensation within the time specified by s. 2 of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1906F1, was that he did not know of the existence of the Act or that he was entitled to compensation for injury by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment. He stated that he first learned of the existence of the Act and his right to compensation when attending Guy's Hospital in April, 1910, and then gave notice.

The county court judge found that these statements were in fact true, and that the respondents were not prejudiced by the failure to give notice of the accident, and he decided as a point of law that whether the ignorance of the workman as to the existence of the Act could be held to be a mistake or not, as to which he doubted, such ignorance was a reasonable cause for his failure to make his claim to compensation within the time specified by the Act.

The employers appealed.

Duckworth, for the appellants. The ignorance of the workman cannot be a mistake, and, I submit, it is not a reasonable cause for failure to give notice.

The point was decided in Bramley v. EvansF2; and it was decided in two Scotch cases that ignorance was not an excuse for failure to give notice under the Employers' Liability Act, 1880: Connolly v. Young's Paraffin Co.F3; M'Fadyen v. Dalmellington.F4

F. O. Robinson, for the respondent. The county court judge, having found as a fact that the respondent did not know of the existence of the Workmen's Compensation Act, rightly held as a matter of law that the want of notice and the failure to make the claim within the prescribed time were occasioned by a reasonable cause within the meaning of s. 2, sub-s. 1, of the Act. It is impossible for a man to comply with the provisions of an Act of Parliament if he is ignorant of the existence of the Act, and his failure to do so in those circumstances cannot...

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21 cases
  • Maddalozzo and ORS v Maddick [NTR]
    • Australia
    • Supreme Court
    • 16 July 1992
    ...or make his claim within six months, although I do not suggest that ignorance of the law itself is a relevant consideration: cf Roles v Pascall and Sons (1911) 1 KB 982; Murray v Baxter (1914) 18 CLR 622; Black v City of South Melbourne (1963) VR 34. As mentioned previously, no notice of a......
  • Western Pastoral Company v Eyeington
    • Australia
    • High Court
    • Invalid date
  • Murray v Baxter
    • Australia
    • High Court
    • Invalid date
  • Gillespie v Convoys Ltd
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Session (Inner House - Second Division)
    • 16 June 1939
    ...C. C. 131. 3 1930 S. C. (H. L.) 64, [1930] A. C. 503, at pp. 510 and 514. 4 (1927) 20 B. W. C. C. 434. 5 [1910] A. C. 409, at p. 413. 6 [1911] 1 K. B. 982. 7 17 B. W. C. C. ...
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