534. Vallejo v Wheeler (the “Thomas and Matthew”) 1 Cowp. 143

Marine insurance

The Facts

On a voyage between London and Seville, the master deviated to Guernsey to smuggle.

The charterer, insured, suffered loss through storm damage.

Storm damage and barratry were insured perils.

Deviation was an exclusion.

Findings

Lord Mansfield sitting with two other judges held for the insured.

Deviation could only operate as an exclusion if it occurred with the privity of the insured – here the loss was caused by the barratry of the captain.

Commentary

The report is archaic and obscure.

Interesting quotes:

Wherever a great nicety does arise, the insured should be entitled to the turn of the scale” – Buller, arguendo.

In all mercantile transactions the great object should be certainty: and therefore, it is of more consequence that a rule should be certain than whether the rule is established one way or another. Because speculators in trade then know what ground to go upon.” – Lord Mansfield.

I have in the meantime considered of it, and consulted with men conversant in mercantile affairs, and I am now very clear.” – Lord Mansfield.

Nothing is so clear as that no man can complain of an act done, to which he himself is a party.” – Lord Mansfield.

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