Gillespie Bros and Co Ltd v Roy Bowles Transport Ltd: CA 1973

The court looked at how it should construe the Canada Steamship guidelines with regard to an exemption clause absolving one party of responsibility for negligence. There was a express reference to negligence by the words ‘save harmless and keep . . indemnified against all claims or demands whatsoever.’
Held: Buckley LJ said: ‘It is however a fundamental consideration in the construction of contracts of this kind that it is inherently improbable that one party to a contract would intend to absolve the other party to the contract from the consequences of the latter’s own negligence. The intention to do so must therefore be made perfectly clear, for otherwise the court will conclude that the exempted party was only to be free from liability in respect of damage occasioned by causes other than negligence for which he is answerable.’ and ‘The nature of any claim is essentially linked with and dependent on the cause from which it arises, and any indemnity extending in express terms to all claims and demands of whatsoever kind must, in my opinion, extend to all claims and demands however caused, including claims for negligence’.


Buckley, Denning LJJ


[1973] QB 400, [1973] 1 Lloyds Rep 10


CitedCanada Steamship Lines Ltd v The King PC 21-Jan-1952
A lease of a freight shed exonerated the lessor from ‘any claim . . for . . damage . . to . . Goods . . being . . in the said shed’ and requiring the lessee to indemnify the lessor ‘from and against all claims’. The negligent use of an oxy-acetylene . .

Cited by:

CitedTuck v Vehicle Inspectorate Admn 24-Mar-2004
The defendant appealed a conviction for exceeding the gross permitted weight on a goods vehicle. The magistrates having heard the case, the defendant submitted there was no case to answer, the prosecution having failed to bring evidence as to the . .
CitedStent Foundations Ltd v M J Gleeson Group Plc TCC 9-Aug-2000
The defendant company sought to rely upon an exemption clause.
Held: Applying standard rules for contract interpretation, the exemption clause was to be construed against the one proposing it. At best the clause was ambiguous, and the . .
CitedSmith v UMB Chrysler (Scotland) Ltd HL 9-Nov-1977
The principles set out in Canada Steamship apply to ‘clauses which purport to exempt one party to a contract from liability’. The principles should be applied without ‘mechanistic construction’.
Lord Keith of Kinkel said: The tests were . .
CitedHIH Casualty and General Insurance Limited and others v Chase Manhattan Bank and others HL 20-Feb-2003
The insurance company had paid claims on policies used to underwrite the production of TV films. The re-insurers resisted the claims against them by the insurers on the grounds of non-disclosure by the insured, or in the alternative damages for . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Contract, Torts – Other

Updated: 09 May 2022; Ref: scu.195679