Legal framework group

Introduction

This case is a clash between Contract Law and Human Ethics. Because the case states that a contract was signed Contract Law applies.

A contract is an agreement between two or more parties intended to be legally enforced or recognized by the law of the country and can be used later as evidence. A Contract involves 2 parties Offeror and the Offeree, when a agreement is formed 7 main factors apply they are as follows,

For a Contract to be valid all of these factors should be present, so in the case of Andy and Lorraine v Silver Spoon Hotel these factors will be playing a major role for and against them.

Plaintiff

The plaintiff in this case is Andy and Lorraine; they are faced with a situation purely because of their negligence and Carelessness.

They could try to void the contract under the principal of

“Non Est Factum” this A special defence in contract law to allow a person to avoid having to respect a contract that she or he signed because of certain reasons such as a mistake as to the kind of contract. Anon (ND)

But as stated in the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 liability can be excluded through the use of an Exclusion Clause if it is reasonable and has a clear limit. But as we could clearly see the defendant is excluding all his liability and transferring it totally to the plaintiff when they give the plaintiff a form to sign and this clearly in violation of the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977. And Silver Spoon Hotel the defendant should compensate the plaintiff for the loss of their camera.

The innkeeper is responsible for the guest's properties which are lost within the hotel premises which include swimming-pool, stable-buildings, car-park this was stated in the case Williams v Linnitt [1951] 1 All ER 278. So the responsibility for the loss of the camera will directly fall on the defendants shoulders.

The Law of Tort also plays its part in this case. The Law of Trot says that a duty of care should be provided, but the defendant failed to do so. The defendant dint shows enough duty of care and because of that the plaintiff had to incur a loss.

Negligence - if a person has departed from the conduct expected of a reasonably prudent person acting under similar circumstances.

The plaintiff expected the hotel to provide facilities to relax and an environment of security to stay and they had no intention of getting into a contract. There by infringing on their geniuses of consent.

Furthermore as a guest Andy and Lorraine expect a valued service from the defendant Silver Spoon Hotel for the money they are paying and as stated they have been visiting the hotel a couple of times so they presume that the hotel will provide them with the same service as previews occasions. This shows that they are loyal customers, and the hotel has a duty to serve them.

Also in Barth (2000) stated that if there is excess liability on the inn keeper he/she has to take necessary steps to control them such as

  • Posting Notices

  • A secure safe

  • Suitable locks on doors and windows

  • Limits on required possessions

  • Limits in replacement value of luggage

  • Penalty for negligence

In this case except for one factor other factors are not fulfilled. Specially mentioning that there is no evidence of any safe been provided or the locks been up to standard because the thief got in to the room, this could be linked to a similar case Olley v Marlborough Court [1949] where a thief got into the guest's room and stole her mink coat. The hotel had not played their part.

Duty - the social force that binds you to the courses of action demanded by that force

Liability - the state of being legally obliged and responsible

Also in the case of Thornton v Shoe Lane Parking [1971] 1 All ER 686 where the parking lot had a notice trying to exclude there liability but that case also the plaintiff did not notice the conditions which was displayed, the plaintiff was injured and the courts verdict was that the notices was too plain to be notices so they should be written in bright red. This could be related to the case in hand, if these notices inside the rooms were more eye catching or displayed in a more attention attracting way the plaintiff could have been more careful about their belongings.

Finally the Plaintiff has a fair argument and deserves to be compensated, but the final decision will depend on the court.

Defendant

Because the innkeeper faces some duties than any other organization evenly the inn keeper has some rights unlike any other organization they can be given as follows

  • Duty to Receive Guests

  • Right to Evict Persons Admitted as Guests

  • Duty to Persons Who Are Not Guests

  • Duty to Provide Safe Premises

  • Harm or Damage Caused by Other Guests

  • Harm or Damage Caused by Third Persons

  • Responsibility for Personal Property

  • Statutory or Contractual Limitations on Liability

  • Innkeepers' Liens

Under these duties it is stated that the hotel can exclude their liability through an exception clause if it was clearly mentioned in the contract, and in this case it was. But the plaintiff did not see it on the contract. The defendant can't be held responsible for the carless actions of the plaintiff who did not read the contract and failed to be more careful about their belongings. Under Unfair-Terms-Act 1977 after the party has signed the document and entered the contract they are bound by it and could be legally enforced.

As Stated by Keenan and Riches (2007, p.295) “the person seeking to rely on the exemption clause must show that reasonably steps have been taken to give notice of the other contracting party. What amounts to reasonably sufficient notice will vary according to the nature of the clause. As Denning LJ commented in Spurling v Bradshaw (1956)”

Evidence: Any matter of fact that a party to a lawsuit offers to prove or disprove an issue in the case.

So we can see the defendant has done so and can't be liable for the plaintiff's loss.

The exclusion clause that was in the contract was as follows

“The hotel accepts no liability for any loss of, or damage to property of hotel residents occurring in the hotel”

The hotel has a right to use this privilege if it was clearly put on a contract and the guest is willing to agree to the condition. The condition was stated on a contract and the plaintiff did agree to it by his signature. Furthermore there were boards in the rooms stating the same condition. So the defendant has clearly made an attempt to make the plaintiff be more careful about their belongings.

In the cases Jones v. Jackson (1873) 29 LT399 and Armistead v. Wilde (1851) 17 QB 261 the innkeeper was not found guilty because of the guest carelessness that he faced a loss and not because of the innkeepers fault. So we can say those cases can be related to this case and the defendant can't be charged for the plaintiffs carelessness.

The evidence shows us that the plaintiff has visited the hotel before so should be familiar with the layout and this also shows that the plaintiff was satisfied with the service that they provided on the last visit to the hotel. So as a reasonable person who has capacity the plaintiff should have taken steps to secure higher value items such as the camera, in a place where won't be very noticeable to any thief. And when the plaintiff made this purchase they should been aware about the specification under the principal of “caveat-emptor”

Reasonable person - Ordinary, prudent person who normally exercises due care while avoiding extremes of both audacity and caution.

Inn Keeper - An individual who, as a regular business, provides accommodations for guests in exchange for reasonable compensation

Also the Hotel has a right to use exemption clause because if the guest itself is planning to do the crime and then try to earn a profit by filing a law suit to gain some kind of compensation it is always possible. So it is not unfair from the defendant's side to use these conditions against the plaintiff or any other guest.

So finally the defendant has a good case to defend themselves against the plaintiff, which is backed by facts and verdicts of previews cases.

Conclusion

As a conclusion both parties have equal and effective arguments against each other and have legal issues for and against them. This will have to be argued upon, and judged with a neutral mind.

The case could be summarized as follows Andy and Lorraine were staying at the Silver Spoon Hotel on arrival they had signed a contract that included a condition that excluded the Silver Spoon Hotel from being liable to any loss or damages to valuables. Incidentally when they were at dinner their camera was stolen from their room. So they were after some kind of compensation from Silver Spoon Hotel but they refused to pay because Andy and Lorraine had signed a contract that has the above mentioned condition and they have put the same board in the room, and they have previously transacted. Therefore both parties will have to use finer details to win the case.

So with the above facts the final decision will have to be made by the court. The wining party will probably be the party that has an argument with a more legal backing.

References

Anon (ND), Non Est Factum [online], Available: http://duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/N/NonEstFactum.aspx , [Accessed 13 December 2009].

Anon (2001), Hotel Liability, [online], Available:

http://www.enotes.com/everyday-law-encyclopedia/hotel-liability, [Accessed 24 December 2009].

Anon (1977), Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 (c.50), Available: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/RevisedStatutes/Acts/ukpga/1977/cukpga_19770050_en_1, [Accessed 25 December 2009]

Anon (nd), reasonable person, [online], Available: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/reasonable-person.html, Accessed 28 December 2009.

Anon (nd), Negligence (law), [online], Available:

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Negligence+%28law%29, Accessed 26 December 2009.

Boella and Pannett (2007), Principles of hospitality law, 2nd ed, TJ international, UK

Keenan, D. and Riches, S. (2007), Business Law, 8th ed, Ashford Colour Press Ltd, Gosport

Sandra Norman Eady (2000), INNKEEPERS' RIGHTS REGARDING GUESTS, [online], Available: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2000/rpt/olr/htm/2000-r-0859.htm, Accessed 28 December 2009

The Yale Law Journal Company Inc (1924), Recent case notes, Bailment's, Innkeepers, Responsibility for Loss or Damage to the Goods of a Guest, pg 657