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carrier, carriers, value, loss and liability


Carriers of goods are subjected to a greater degree of responsibility than mere bailees for hire, and that responsi bility is much more extensive than it is in the case of injuries to passengers. By ancient custom (which is part of the com mon law of this country), a common carrier of goods for hire is not only bound to take goods tendered to him, if he has room in his conveyance, and he is informed of their quality and value, but he is in the same situation as one who absolutely insures their safety, even against inevitable accident; he is there fore liable for their loss, though he be robbed of them by a force which he could not resist, on the principle that he might otherwise contrive purposely to be robbed of or to lose the goods, and himself to share the spoil. There are however three exceptions to this liability : 1, loss arising from the king's public enemies ; 2, loss arising from the act of God, such as storm, lightning, or tempest ; 3, loss arising from the owner's own fault, as by imperfect interior packing, which the carrier could not perceive or remedy.

As property of large value may be com pressed into a small spare end transmitted by carriers, they have in modem endeavoured by notices to lessen the ex tensive charge that the common law cast upon them. The notice that they were in the habit of giving usually stated in substance that the carrier would not be responsible for goods above a certain value (generally 54), unless entered and paid for accordingly. After repeated dis cussions in courts of justice, on the effect of these notices, the carriers succeeded in establishing, that they would not be liable in the above circumstances, if they could prove explicitly, in each instance, full knowledge on the part of the person who sent the goods, or his agent, of this specific qualification of their general liability.

But proof of this fact was in all cases most difficult to give, and to obviate this difficulty the statute 11 Geo. IV. and 1 Will. IV. c. 68, was passed, by which it is enacted that no common carrier by land shall be liable for the loss of, or in jury to, certain articles, particularly enu merated in the act, contained in any package which shall have been delivered, either to be carried for hire, or to accom pany a passenger, when the value of such article shall exceed the sum of 10/., unless, at the time of the delivery of the package to the carrier, the value and nature of such article shall have been explicitly declared. In such case the carrier may demand an increased rate of charge, a table of which increased rates must be affixed in legible characters in some public and conspicu ous part of the receiving office; and all persons who send goods are bound by such notice without further proof of the same having come to their knowledge. The Carriers' Act applies only to car riers by land, and the liability of carriers by sea is the common liability before ex plained, slightly modified. Sines.] Upon the general principle that per sons who, at the request of their owners, bestow money or labour on goods can de tain them until those charges are paid, a carrier can refuse to deliver up goods, which have come into his possession as a carrier, until his reasonable charges for the carriage are paid. This in law is called a particular lien, in contradiction to a General lien. I'Lmis.1