Skip to Content

Decisions of the Superior Courts of New South Wales, 1788-1899

Biggers v. White [1807] NSWKR 4; [1807] NSWSupC 4

common carriers, strict liability

Court of Civil Jurisdiction

Atkins J.A., 1 July 1807

Source: Sydney Gazette, 5 July 1807[1]

This was a case Biggers v. White (as a common carrier), to recover £14 that being the value of four dozen of Madeira wine, committed by the plaintiff to the charge of the defendant's servant, to be conveyed in his cart to Hawkesbury, the carriage of which was to have been paid for. The cart had been attacked and robbed on the public road of the wine with other property, and the criminal condemned and executed for the offence. The defendant trusted, therefore, that he should not be made responsible for a loss wherein no blame was attachable to himself or servant; but the law required that judgment should be given against him. A verdict for the plaintiff was accordingly given for the sum sued for, or a return of the complement of wine lost, at the discretion of the defendant.


[1] In English law at this time, common carriers were strictly liable for losses. This case shows that the same applied in New South Wales. See also Court of Civil Jurisdiction Proceedings, 1788-1814, State Records N.S.W., 2/8149, p. 98; B. Kercher, Debt Seduction and Other Disasters: the Birth of Civil Law in Convict N.S.W., 115; and see May v. Jones, 1811.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University