Nelson Line (Liverpool) Ltd v James Nelson and Sons Ltd: HL 1908

Where there is in a contract an absolute promise with an exception engrafted upon it, the exception is to be construed strictly, and extends only so far as it is expressed with clearness and certainty. The parties to an agreement may contract themselves out of their duties, but, unless they prove such a contract, the duties remain; and such a contract is not proved by producing language which may mean that and may mean something different.
Lord Loreburn LC said that there is ‘only one standard of construction, except where words have acquired a special conventional meaning, namely, what do the words mean on a fair reading, having regard to the whole document?’


Lord Loreburn LC


[1908] AC 16


England and Wales

Cited by:

AdoptedBritish Movietone News Limited v London and District Cinemas Limited HL 26-Jul-1951
Film distributors contracted to supply newsreels at a cinematic theatre. The contract was for a minimum of 26 weeks, and after on termination by the distributors on four weeks notice thereafter, but by the cinema on four weeks after the first month. . .
CitedGold Group Properties Ltd v BDW Trading Ltd TCC 3-Mar-2010
The parties had contracted for the construction of an estate of houses and flats to be followed by the interim purchase by the defendants. The defendants argued that the slump in land prices frustrated the contract and that they should not be called . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 02 May 2022; Ref: scu.402548