Thompson v London, Midland and Scottish Railway Co Ltd [1930]

Thompson v London, Midland and Scottish Railway Co Ltd [1930] 1 KB 41 is an English contract law case concerning the exclusion of liability. Despite the subsequent enactment of the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977, which would likely lead to a different outcome today, the case remains relevant for its consideration of whether reasonable notice of terms and conditions has been given to incorporate them into the contract.

Mrs Thompson slipped on a slippery ramp while disembarking a train operated by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway at 10 pm, resulting in injuries. The train had stopped just past the platform, making the ramp hazardous. Mrs Thompson, who could not read, had been given an excursion ticket by her niece. The ticket stated, "Excursion. For conditions see back", referring to the railway's timetables and excursion bills, which could be purchased for sixpence. The tickets were issued on the condition that holders would have no rights of action against the company for injuries. A jury found the railway negligent, but the judge, as a matter of law, held that the contract was complete upon accepting the ticket, and the jury was not entitled to make their findings.

Lord Harnworth MR held that Mrs Thompson, regardless of her ability to read, was bound by the contract. The reference to further conditions on the back of the ticket was deemed sufficient notice. He emphasised that the court had no difficulty concluding that the contract was binding.

This case is noteworthy for its stance on the adequacy of notice regarding terms and conditions. The case reflects the historical approach to contract law before legislative interventions like the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977. It underscores the importance of objectively assessing whether reasonable notice has been provided to incorporate terms into a contract, even if subsequent legal developments might alter the outcome.
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