Vaughan v The Taff Vale Railway Company

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtExchequer
Judgment Date12 May 1860
Date12 May 1860

English Reports Citation: 157 E.R. 1351

IN THE EXCHEQUER CHAMBER.

Vaughan
and
The Taff Vale Railway Company

S C. 29 L. J. Ex. 247, 9 Jur. (N. S.) 899; 8 W. R. 549, 2 L T. 394. Not applied, Fremantle v. London and North Western Railway, 1861, 10 C. B (N S) 89, Dixon v. Metropolitan Board of Works, 1881, 7 Q B. D. 423. Distinguished, Jones v. Festiniog Railway, 1868, L. R. 3 Q B. 736, Evans v. Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, 1887, 36 Ch. D 634; Long Eaton Recreation Grounds Company v. Midland Railway, 1901, 71 L J. K B. 74, 85 L T. 278: affirmed (1902) 2 K. B. 574. Approved, Hammersmith and City Railway v. Brand, 1869, L. R. 4 H. L. 171; London, Brighton and South Coast Railway v. Truman, 1885, 11 A. C. 53 Applied, Dungey v. London Corporation, 1869, 38 L J. C. P. 304. Lea Conseriancy Board v. Hertford Corporation, 1884, 1 Cab. & E. 299 Disapproved, Powell v Fall, 1880, 5 Q. B. D. 601. Discussed, Smith v. London and South Western Railway, 1870, L. R. 6 C. P. 21, Durn v. Birmingham Canal Company, 1872, L. R. 8 Q B 47, Boughton v Midland Great Western Railway, 1873, Ir. R 7 C L 181, Madras Railway v. Carvetinagarum (Zemindar), 1874, L. R. 1 Ind App. 384, Hill v. Metropolitan Asylum District, 1879, 4 Q. B. D. 444: affirmed 6 A. C 193; Reg. v. Steward, 1880, 9 Q. B. D. 742; Reg. v. Essex, 1884, 14 Q B. D. 673: affirmed nominee Cooper-Essex v. Acton Local Board, 14 A. C. 153 Referred to, Duke of Buccleuch v. Metropolitan Board of Works, 1870, L. R 5 Ex. 248; Attorney-General and Hare v. Metropolitan Railway, (1894) 1 Q B 388; Emsley v. North Eastern Railway, (1896) 1 Ch. 429, Southwark and Vauzhall Water Company v. Wandsworth District Board of Works, (1898) 2 Ch. 611, Jordeson v. Sutton, Southcotes and Drypool Gas Company, (1898) 2 Ch 619; Dulieu v. White, (1901) 1 K. B. 675, West v. Bristol Tramways Company, (1908) 2 K. B. 21.

[679] easter vacation, 23 vict. in the exchequer chamber. (Appeal from the Court of Exchequer.) taughan v. the taff vale railway company. May 12, 1860.-A railway Company, authorized by the legislature to use locomotive engines, is not responsible for damage from fire occasioned by sparks emitted from an engine travelling on their railway, provided they have taken every precaution in their power and adopted every means which science can suggest to prevent injury from fire, and are not guilty of negligence in the management of the engine So held in the Exchequer Chamber (reversing the judgment of the Court of Exchequer) [S C. 29 L. J. Ex. 247 , 9 Jur. (N. S.) 899 ; 8 W. R. 549 , 2 L T. 394. Not applied, Fremantle v. Lojulon and North Western Raihcay, 1861, 10 C. B (N S) 89, Dixon v. Metropolitan Boanl of IVoiks, 1881, 7 Q B. D. 423. Distinguished, Jones v. Feshmog Railway, 1868, L R. 3 Q B. 736 , Evans v. Manche&tei, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, 1887, 36 Ch. D 634; Long Eaton Recieation Giounds Company v. Midland Railway, 1901, 71 L J. K B. 74 , 85 L T. 278 : affirmed [1902] 2 K. B. 574. Approved, Hammersmith and City Railway v. Brand, 1869, L. R. 4 H. L. 171; London, Brighton and South Coast Railway v. Tinman, 1885, 11 A. C. 53 Applied, Dungey r. London Corporation, 1869, 38 L J. C. P. 304. Lea Cmsenancy Board v. Hertford Corporation, 1884, 1 Cab. & E. 299 Disapproved, Powell v Fall, 1880, 5 Q. B. D. 601. Discussed, Smith v. London and South Western Railway, 1870, L. R. 6 C. P. 21} Dunn v. Birmingham Canal Company, 1872, L R. 8 Q B 47 , Boughton v Midland Cheat Western Railway, 1873, Ir. R 7 C L 181, Madras Railway v. 1352 VAUGHAN V. THE TAFF VALE RAILWAY COMPANY 5 H & N 680 Qarvetm&garum (Zemindar), 1874, L. E. 1 Ind App. 384 , Hill \. Metropolitan Asylum Dtstnct, 1879, 4 Q. B. D. 444 : affirmed 6 A. C 193 ; Reg. v Steward, 1880, 9 Q. B. D. 742; Reg. v. Essex, 1884, 14 Q B. D. 763: affirmed nomine Coopei-Essex v. Acton Local Board, 14 A. C. 153 Referred to, Duke of Bucdnwh v. Metropolitan Boa/d of Works, 1870, L. R 5 Ex. 248; Attorney-General and Hate v. Mdiopohtan Railway, [1894] 1 Q B 388; Emsley v. North Eastern Railway, [1896] 1 Ch. 429, Southwark and Vawhall Water Company v. Wands-worth District Boaid of Wmks, [1898] 2 Ch. 611, Jardeson v. Sutton, Southcotes and Drypool Gas Company, [1898] 2 Ch 619; Dutieu t. White, [1901] 1 K. B. 675, West v. Brutal Tramways Company, [1908] 2 E. B. 21.] This was an appeal by the defendants against the judgment of the Court of Exchequer in discharging a rule for a new trial (reported 3 H & N. 743) The case stated on appeal was as follows :- The defendants are a Company, who, under their special Acts and the General Railway Acts incorporated therewith, are proprietors of, and use and work the Taff Vale Railway with locomotive engines as a passenger and goods line. The plaintiff is the owner of a wood or plantation adjoining the embankment of the railway. On the 14th March, 1856, the plaintiff's wood was discovered to be on fire, and eight acres of it were burnt. The tire may be taken to have originated from a spark or coal from one of the defendants' locomotive engines in the ordinary course of its working. This action was brought by the plaintiff for the damage he sustained by the fire. (The case then set out the pleadings which suffieiently appear in the report, 3 H. & N. 743 ) From the evidence of the plaintiff and his witnesses it appeared that the fire in the plaintiff's wood was first seen at a place fifty yards from the railway that there were [680J traces of fire extending continuously all the way between the railway and the wood, and that the railway bank was burning: that the grass on the bank had been cut three or four months before, but that there was grass of a very combustible nature growing on the bank just previous to the fire, and that it was all burned that there was a great deal of long grass growing in the wood, which was extremely combustible : that the wood was also full of small dry branches, the remains of a former cutting, and waa described, by the plaintiff, to be in just about as safe a state as an open barrel of gunpowder would be in the Cyfarthfa rolling-mill The wood, however, was in an ordinary and natural condition, and as it had been before and since the railway was made. Whether the injury was caused by the grass on the embankment being first set fire to, or whether by lighted matter being thrown from the locomotive on to the plaintiff's land, was not left to or determined by the jury. The defendants' counsel did not at the trial make any objection on this ground. On the part of the defendants it was swoin that everything which was practicable had been done to the locomotive to make it safe : that a cap had been put to its chimney : that its ashpan had been secured: that it travelled at the slowest pace consistent with practical utility, and that if its funnel had been more guarded or its ashpan less free, or its pace slower, it could not have been advantageously used; and it must be taken to be the fact that the defendants had taken every precaution and adopted every means in their power, and which science could suggest, to prevent their engines from emitting sparks, but the witness added, " we do occasionally burn our own banks now." The learned Judge left the question of negligence and improper conduct by the defendants to the jury, saying there was evidence thereof, even though the jury believed [681] the evidence that everything which was practicable had been done to the locomotive to render it safe, and though it travelled at the slowest pace consistent with practical utility. He refused to leave to the jury any question arising out of the combustible character of the plaintiffs wood. The jury returned a general verdict for the plaintiff, the damages being agreed upon at 271. 10s The Judge did not direct the jury, as stated in the rule of the Court of Exchequer,(a) " that no care or skill used in preventing the escape of fire from the engine would be an answer to the charge of negligence, provided the defendants did not succeed in preventing it," but left the question of negligence and improper conduct as above. The question whether there was evidence as to both or either count was entertained (a) The grounds of the rule are stated in 3 H. & N 746. 5BlBN.es VAUGHAN V. THE TAFF VALE RAILWAY COMPANY 1353 and deall with by the Court of Exchequer as though open to the defendants on the uile, and without requiring any amendment thereof. The question for the decision of the Court of Appeal is, whether or not the defendants are entitled to have a new trial on the ground that there was no evidence of negligence to go to the jury under the first count of the declaiation, assuming it w*s true, as sworn, that everything had been done, &c , the plaintiff contending that there was such evidence, and also that...

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