John Brown and Co Ltd v Baird: HL 4 Dec 1923

An injured workmen was paid compensation by his employers at the full statutory rate of pounds 1 per week plus the corresponding war addition of 15s. per week from 15th April 1920, the date of the accident, until 21st August 1920, when they ceased payment, maintaining that he had fully recovered. The workman contended that he was still incapacitated, but eventually signed a discharge of all his claims under the Workmen’s Compensation Act and the War Additions Acts for pounds 35. The recording of the memorandum of the agreement having been objected to by an approved society, of which the workman was a member, on the ground that the sum was inadequate, the matter was referred to the Sheriff-Substitute as arbitrator. Before anything more had been done the workman raised arbitration proceedings, to which his employers replied by founding on the discharge. The arbiter having found that the agreement was void in respect that it amounted to contracting out of the Act, the employers appealed by way of Stated Case. Eventually the present appeal was taken.
Held ( rev. judgment of the First Division, Lord Skerrington diss.) that the workman was not barred by the discharge from applying for an award of compensation; that the discharge amounted to an agreement to contract out of the Act in breach of section 3, sub-section 1; and that accordingly it fell to be set aside.

61 SLR 43
[1923] UKHL 43, 61 SLR 43
Workmen’s Compensation Act 1906
England and Wales

Employment, Personal Injury

Updated: 22 January 2022; Ref: scu.633270