London, Chatham and Dover Railway Co v South Eastern Railway Co: HL 1893

The Lord Chancellor was considering the position of a creditor whose debtor refused to exchange accounts as agreed, thus preventing the creditor from quantifying the debt.
Held: The House declined to alter the rule in Page -v- Newman.
Lord Herschell LC stated the principles to be applied when awarding interest. The common law principle that damages in the nature of interest are not recoverable for the late payment of a debt is not satisfactory. However, no interest was due on a debt unless a contractual term or trade usage specifically provided for it.
Lord Herschell LC said: ‘In certain cases that might in equity entitle the party who was in the right in the contest to treat the matter as if he had given such notice; if, for example, he had written, ‘It is impossible to ascertain the exact amount because you will not give me a proper account; but I give you notice that I claim whatever is the amount, with interest from this date’. I think if he had taken such a step as that, although it would not have been at law a compliance with the terms of the statute, in equity he would have been regarded and ought to have been regarded as being in the same position as if he had complied with the statute’.

Lord Herschell LC
[1893] AC 429, [1892] 1 Ch 120
England and Wales
CitedPage v Newman 1829
Under common law ‘the long-established rule that interest is not due on money secured by a written instrument, unless it appears on the face of the instrument that interest was intended to be paid, or unless it be implied from the usage of trade, as . .

Cited by:
CitedLesotho Highlands Development Authority v Impregilo Spa and others CA 31-Jul-2003
The parties went to arbitration to resolve disputes in a construction contract. The award appeared to have been made for payment in currencies different from those set out in the contract. The question was asked as to whether the award of interest . .
CitedTate and Lyle Food Distribution Ltd v Greater London Council 1981
Forbes J considered the principles to be applied when considering the award of interest on damages between the date of the loss and the judgment: ‘Despite the way in which Lord Herschell LC in London, Chatham and Dover Railway Co v South Eastern . .
CitedSempra Metals Ltd v Inland Revenue Commissioners and Another HL 18-Jul-2007
The parties agreed that damages were payable in an action for restitution, but the sum depended upon to a calculation of interest. They disputed whether such interest should be calculated on a simple or compound basis. The company sought compound . .
AppliedJohnson v The King PC 22-Jun-1904
(Sierra Leone) For restitutionary claims, an action for money had and received only the net sum could be recovered. . .
CitedJefford v Gee CA 4-Mar-1970
The courts of Scotland followed the civil law in the award of interest on damages. The court gave examples of the way in which they apply the ex mora rule when calculating the interest payable in a judgment. If money was wrongfully withheld, then . .
CitedAdcock v Co-Operative Insurance Society Ltd CA 26-Apr-2000
The claimant claimed under his fire insurance with the defendants. He sought damages for their delay in processing the claim.
Held: The power to award interest on damages is discretionary. The judge had refused to allow interest, at a rate . .
CitedSycamore Bidco Ltd v Breslin and Another ChD 14-Feb-2013
The court considered whether it was correct to award interest on the sum of damages for the period before as well as after judgment, and if so, from what date and at what rate of interest.. . .
CitedLittlewoods Ltd and Others v Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs SC 1-Nov-2017
The appellants had overpaid under a mistake of law very substantial sums in VAT over several years. The excess had been repaid, but with simple interest and not compound interest, which the now claimed (together with other taxpayers amounting to 17 . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 11 November 2021; Ref: scu.185177