Brimnes, the Tenax Steamship Co v Brimnes, Owners of: CA 23 May 1974

The ship’s owners sent a telex to the charterers at 5.45 pm on 2 April 1970 withdrawing the vessel for late payment of the hire charge. The charterers’ normal business hours ended at 6.00 pm. The telex was not seen until the morning of 3 April, although it had arrived in the charterers’ office at 5.45 pm on 2 April.
Held: The charterer’s appeal failed. It was deemed received before close of business on the 2nd. A contract may be terminated by one party without the other party being actually aware of the communication of the termination. The contract is terminated at the time when notice of the termination would ‘in the normal course of business’ have come to the other party’s attention on its arrival.
Megaw LJ said: ‘if a notice arrives at the address of the person to be notified, at such a time and by such a means of communication that it would in the normal course of business come to the attention of that person on its arrival, that person cannot rely on some failure of himself or his servants to act in a normal businesslike manner in respect of taking cognisance of the communication so as to postpone the effective time of the notice until some later time when it in fact came to his attention.’
Cairns LJ observed: ‘In my opinion, the general rule is that notice must reach the mind of the charterer or of some responsible person on his behalf. There must clearly be exceptions to this rule: for example, if the charterer or his agent deliberately keeps out of the way, or refrains from opening a letter with a view to avoiding the receipt of notice. How much further than this do exceptions go? I feel little doubt that if an office were closed all day on an ordinary working day, though without any thought of a notice of withdrawal arriving, such a notice delivered by post on that day must be regarded as then received.’
Edmund Davies LJ, Megaw LJ, Cairns LJ
[1974] EWCA Civ 15, [1975] QB 929, [1974] 3 All ER 88
England and Wales
Appeal FromBrimnes, The Tenax Steamship Co v Brimnes, Owners of 1973
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Cited by:
DistinguishedGisda Cyf v Barratt CA 2-Jul-2009
The employer wrote to the employee on 29 November 2006 informing her of her dismissal, the letter arrived on the 30th, and she read it on the 4th of December. The employer appealed against a finding that the effective date of dismissal was the date . .
CitedGisda Cyf v Barratt SC 13-Oct-2010
The parties disputed the effective date of termination of the claimant’s employment. Was it the date on which the letter notifying her was sent, or was it on the day she received it. She had been dimissed without notice, and the date was the date on . .
CitedNewcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v Haywood SC 25-Apr-2018
Notice of dismissal begins when received by worker
The court was asked: ‘If an employee is dismissed on written notice posted to his home address, when does the notice period begin to run? Is it when the letter would have been delivered in the ordinary course of post? Or when it was in fact . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 19 July 2021; Ref: scu.262728