The House was asked as to when the acts of an individual became those of his employer under section 502 (‘any loss or damage happening without (the ship owner’s) actual fault or privity’).
Held: Viscount Haldane LC said: ‘It must be upon the true construction of that section in such a case as the present one that the fault or privity is the fault or privity of somebody who is not merely a servant or agent for whom the company is liable on the footing of respondeat superior but somebody for whom the company is liable because his action is the very action of the company itself. It is not enough that the fault should be the fault of a servant in order to exonerate the owner, the fault must also be one which is not the fault of the owner, or a fault to which the owner is not privy . .’
Viscount Haldane LC said: ‘My Lords, a corporation is an abstraction. It has no mind of its own any more than it has a body of its own; its active and directing will must consequently be sought in the person of somebody who for some purposes may be called an agent, but who is really the directing mind and will of the corporation, the very ego and centre of the personality of the corporation. That person may be under the direction of the shareholders in general meeting; that person may be the board of directors itself, or it may be, and in some companies it is so, that that person has an authority co-ordinate with the board of directors given to him under the articles of association, and is appointed by the general meeting of the company, and can only be removed by the general meeting of the company.’
Viscount Haldane LC
 AC 705, [1914-15] All ER 280
Merchant Shipping Act 1894 502
England and Wales
Cited – HL Bolton (Engineering) Co Ltd v TJ Graham and Sons Ltd CA 1957
The landlord asserted that a tenancy should not be renewed and claimed to have held the freehold for more than 5 years.
Held: The Landlord had only become the reversioner to the lease after accepting a surrender of the head lease. The Act . .
Cited – KR and others v Royal and Sun Alliance Plc CA 3-Nov-2006
The insurer appealed findings of liability under the 1930 Act. Claims had been made for damages for child abuse in a residential home, whom they insured. The home had become insolvent, and the claimants had pursued the insurer.
Held: The . .
Cited – Tesco Supermarkets Ltd v Nattrass HL 31-Mar-1971
Identification of Company’s Directing Mind
In a prosecution under the 1968 Act, the court discussed how to identify the directing mind and will of a company, and whether employees remained liable when proper instructions had been given to those in charge of a local store.
Held: ‘In the . .
Cited – El Ajou v Dollar Land Holdings Ltd CA 2-Dec-1993
The court was asked whether, for the purposes of establishing a company’s liability under the knowing receipt head of constructive trust, the knowledge of one of its directors can be treated as having been the knowledge of the company.
Held: . .
Cited – Ferguson v British Gas Trading Ltd CA 10-Feb-2009
Harassment to Criminal Level needed to Convict
The claimant had been a customer of the defendant, but had moved to another supplier. She was then subjected to a constant stream of threatening letters which she could not stop despite re-assurances and complaints. The defendant now appealed . .
Cited – Jetivia Sa and Another v Bilta (UK) Ltd and Others SC 22-Apr-2015
The liquidators of Bilta had brought proceedings against former directors and the appellant alleging that they were party to an unlawful means conspiracy which had damaged the company by engaging in a carousel fraud with carbon credits. On the . .
Cited – A Ltd and Othersi, Regina v CACD 28-Jul-2016
The Serious Fraud Office appealed against rulings on the admission of evidence after its exclusion under section 78.
Held: The appeal was allowed. The appeal had been brought within time and could proceed. Police and Criminal Evidence Act . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 09 November 2021; Ref: scu.245858