Robinson v Balmain Ferry

Mentioned in Source 5.

Facts and Desisions

The claimant wanted to cross on a ferry. The charge was 'a penny on, a penny off' (It made it easier to divide the cash for both landowners of the ferry dock, one at each end). He just missed the ferry, so changed his mind about crossing and tried leaving from the way he came. He was asked to pay the agreed penny off, but refused stating the fact he did not cross. It was held that as he had agreed beforehand to pay a penny to get off the premises, it was a reasonable condition to leave. The defendant was not liable. (source 5, lines 21-25)

How did it change the law?

Expands the rules for false imprisonment by adding that a defendant can legitimately refrain a claimant from leaving, if they agreed at an earlier time to a contract. This case narrows the law, as less cases will get heard.

Has it achieved justice in the law?

This case has achieved justice because C had agreed to pay a penny on both entering and leaving the ferry and therefore should have done so.

What is its significance for the developments of the law?

Bird v Jones established that a false imprisonment must be total. This case said a restraint will not be total in false imprisonment if a person is held according to conditions which he agreed to (source 5, lines 12-21) As such a person can be volenti to a false imprisonment.

It also highlights the importance of contract law and the freedom of the claimant to agree only to a contract that they agree the tems to.

References to other cases.

Refer to Herd v Weardale (source 5, lines 1-6) where the miners had contracted to staying down the mines until they had finished their shift, similarly C had contracted to paying a penny on entering the ferry and leaving the ferry.