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

Huntley v. Crisp [1839] NSWSupC 19

negligence - bailment of horse - innkeepers' liability

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Dowling C.J., 11 March 1839

Source: Sydney Herald, 13 March 1839[1] 

Huntley v. Crisp. -- This was an action brought against an innkeeper to recover the value of a horse, which it was alleged was lost through the negligence of the defendant.  The plaintiff's case was that his son went to the defendant's Inn leading an unbroken Mare which he requested might be put into the stable, when the defendant suggested it would be better to put her in the stockyard.  The plaintiff said the mare was very likely to escape from the stockyard as she had formerly done from Mr. Ireland's stockyard, when the defendant said his stockyard was secure.  The mare was then put into the stockyard, and the next morning was found to have escaped.  The slip-rails were not down, and the stockyard was admitted by both parties to be a secure one.

For the defence a witness was called, who swore that it was at the suggestion of young Mr. Huntley that the mare was put into the stockyard, and it was contended that the defendant was not bound to provide places extraordinarily secure; the paddock was admitted to be an ordinarily secure one, and if the mare was an extraordinary animal, and could not be kept in an ordinarily secure paddock, the defendant was not to blame.

His Honor told the Assessors that by the Common Law of England as settled so long ago as the time of my Lord Coke, Innkeepers are prima facie, liable for all the property of their guests which may be entrusted to their care.  If there had been any concealment or fraud on the part of Mr. Huntley, it would have exempted the defendant, but if they believed the evidence of Mr. Huntley and his friend, the defendant was told that the mare was liable to make her escape, and that a short time before she had made her escape, and if after that warning the defendant took charge of the mare, he must stand or fall by his own actings.  Verdict for the plaintiff, damages £25.

Counsel for the plaintiff, Mr. a'Beckett; for the defendant, Mr. Windeyer.


Dowling C.J. and Willis J. in banco, 26 March 1839

Source: Sydney Herald, 29 March 1839

Huntley v Crisp. -- This was an action tried before the Chief Justice, to recover the value of a horse lost through the negligence of the defendant an innkeeper, when the Assessors returned a verdict for the plaintiff for £25.  Mr. Windeyer now moved for a new trial or for an arrest of judgment on a variety of points, one of which, that in the declaration it was not stated that the defendant took charge of the horse for hire and reward, the Court held to be fatal and ordered judgment to be arrested.



[1] See also Sydney Gazette, 14 March 1839.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University