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Negligence on the part of a banker may deprive him of the protection of sect. 82 of the Bills of Exchange Act. But the protection so lost may be restored if negligence is subsequently displayed by the claimant of a remedy against him. Morrison v. London & County & Westminster Bank (L. R. , 3 K. B. 356), is a useful illustration of this. The facts of the case are too lengthy for detailed notice, the report covering thirty pages. The main points, however, are that the plaintiff had directed his bankers, the National Provincial, to honour cheques signed per pro. by his manager; and that the manager had paid to his own credit in his private account at the defendant bank cheques so signed. As the defendants had become holders of cheques which had never been the property of their customer, they were primâ facie liable to the plaintiff for conversion, unless protected by sect. 82 of the Act. It was held that the form and destination of the cheques should, in the early instances, have put the defendants on enquiry, and as they had failed to question the authority, they were deprived of the defence of the section. The result was, that, so far, the law was on the side of the plaintiff. But his hopeful prospect was overcast by a heavy cloud. The evidence had disclosed circumstances which were quite remarkable. The manager opened his account with the defendants in 1905. Two years later he began paying into his credit certain of the misappropriated cheques. Some irregularities induced the plaintiff to have his books examined by independent accountants, who reported to him in September, 1909. It is clear, therefore, that at that date he had knowledge of his manager's misdoings. In November, 1909, a new agreement was made between him and the manager which contained no restraint on the latter beyond a mild stipulation that he should not thereafter pursue fortune by the precarious paths of betting, gambling, or speculation. But he continued his malpractices
till 1912. And the plaintiff now sought damages from the defendants for the entire loss. Not only had he the balance sheets prepared by the accountant, but he had at all times power of reference to his own pass-book and to the returned cheques. The accumulated weight of these facts irresistibly established ratification. Whatever negligence there may have been on the part of the defendants at the commencement of the irregularity, was expunged by the long continuance of payments into the manager's account by cheques. signed by procuration.
There is a popular idea that a right of way over private ground is acquired by uninterrupted user by the public for an uncertain number of years. Some decisions have favoured this view, and, in cases where the majority of a Court have rejected the view, dissenting judgments have strengthened the popular belief. In Folkestone Corporation v. Brockman (A. C. , 338), the House of Lords have delivered a judgment of the majority which may remove the misconception as regards England. In Scotland rules affecting the question are different. A merely unauthorised use by the public of a way over private ground, even though the use is unrestricted or unchecked, confers no public right. Even long use is no more than evidence for what it is worth as an inference of dedication. Length of user and the locus in quo may give support to the inference. But dedication is the only valid basis of such a right, and since the Highway Act of 1835 dedication has to be confirmed by certain formalities. So that for a right to be presumed from user, the use must be claimed as having arisen earlier than that year.
Another highway case, but of a different kind, is AttorneyGeneral v. Sharpness New Docks and Gloucester and Birmingham Navigation Co. (L. R. , 3 K. B. 1); and of some
importance as affecting road traffic at the present day. The defendants, as owners of a canal, were bound under the terms of their authorising Act to build and maintain certain bridges; and they contended now that neither at Common law nor otherwise are they obliged to maintain the roads over their bridges at a higher standard than was necessary for the traffic which used them in 1791 when the bridges were built. But the Court decided that the measure of the defendants' liability was the same as that of the road authority on either side of their bridges. A road authority has, of course, to maintain its highways in an up-to-date condition, and in that condition the authority concerned here would have had to sustain the unbroken road if it had not been severed for the benefit of the canal promoters. But the defendants in consideration of the right to make the canal had assumed that duty, in some degree, over the bridge surfaces. If their contention had succeeded, there would have been two standards of repair along a continuous highway. Over the larger part the requirements of the existing traffic would have been met; but over a short portion, the continuity of efficiency would have waned to whatever might have been sufficient a century ago. Or else the highway authority would have had at their own charge to supplement the antiquated standard of the canal.
When four years ago Rex v. Norton (L. R. , 2 K. B. 496) was decided, it was questioned in some quarters whether the law was quite accurately expressed in what seemed to be the ruling in that case, viz., that a statement made against an accused and in his presence before he was charged was not relevant, and should be disregarded at his trial unless the truth of the statement had been admitted by him. By this decision the Court of Criminal Appeal seems to have been bound when Rex v. Christie was before them; and they
quashed a conviction mainly because the prisoner had denied the charge when identified and accused by a boy whom he was alleged to have assaulted. The boy at the trial again identified the prisoner, but was not questioned about the previous identification. Evidence of both the identification and the statement was, however, given by a policeman and by the boy's mother. The case was carried to the Appeal Court (L. R. , A. C. 545) "to obtain a final pronouncement of the law on a matter of great importance in the daily administration of criminal law." The pronouncement is, that there is a rule of law "that a statement made in the presence of an accused is not evidence against him of the facts, save so far as he accepts the statement by word or demeanour." "But there is no rule of law that a particular form of response, whether positive or negative, is such that it cannot in some cases have an evidential value." For instance, "His denial may be in such a manner that the jury would disbelieve him." But practically, the pronouncement leaves matters much as they were, for the caution is given that a judge would in most cases be acting with the best traditions of our criminal procedure if he exercised his influence over the prosecution, to prevent such evidence being given where it would be of little or no evidential value.
T. J. B.
In William Baird & Co. Ltd. v. The Ancient Order of Foresters (, 2 S. L. T. 206), a workman and his employer had come to an agreement under which the workman accepted a lump sum in satisfaction of a claim for compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act. A memorandum of the agreement was sent to the sheriff-clerk (the Scottish official corresponding to the registrar of the
County Court) for registration. The approved society with which the workman was insured under the National Insurance Act desired to intervene, in order to maintain that the memorandum of the agreement ought not to be registered, in respect that the lump sum agreed on was inadequate. Its pecuniary interest to do so was obvious, because under the National Insurance Act, the amount of the sickness or disablement benefit payable by the society to the workman would largely depend on the weekly value of the lump sum-the larger the lump sum, the less would be the amount of sickness or disablement benefit. But the right of the society to be heard depended on its being able to show that it was a party interested in the sense of paragraph 9 of the second schedule to the Workmen's Compensation Act. In the Court of Session the actual decision turned largely on questions of Scottish procedure, and the question whether the approved society was a "party interested" was not decided. The Court held (1) that the approved society was entitled to lay information on the question of adequacy before the sheriff-clerk, and (2) that the sheriff was entitled to hear the approved society, in order to enable him to perform his statutory duty of deciding whether the memorandum of agreement should or should not be registered. The Lord President expressed his opinion "as then advised," that the approved society was a party interested. Lord Johnston was of a contrary opinion, while Lord Skerrington seems to have been inclined to agree with the Lord President. The case should be compared with the English case of Bonney v. Joshua Hoyle & Sons, Ltd. (L. R. , 2 K. B. 257). There the Court of Appeal, while recognising that the approved society "like any other busybody" might lay information before the registrar of the County Court, held that it was not a "party interested" in the sense of paragraph 9, and had no locus standi to be heard. on the question of the adequacy of the lump sum payment.