Chapelton v Barry Urban District Council [1940] 1 KB 532

Hire of deck chair; effect of purported exclusion of liability on ticket


Chapelton wished to hire a deck chair and approached a pile of chairs owned by Barry Urban District Council (BUDC). A notice adjacent to the chairs detailed the cost of hire and advised customers to obtain tickets and retain them for inspection. Chapelton purchased tickets and placed them in his pocket. On one side of the tickets, the council purported to exclude liability for any accidents caused by hiring the chairs. Chapelton sat down and the canvas gave way. He sought damages from BUDC and it was held they had effectively excluded liability. Chapelton appealed.


Chapelton argued he had not been given sufficient notice of the clauses printed on the ticket and, therefore, he should not be bound by them. There was nothing on the notice adjacent to the chairs, or on the face of the ticket to alert customers’ attention to the clauses on the back. The ticket should be regarded as a receipt provided after the formation of the contract. BUDC contended Chapelton did have notice of the terms because the exclusion clause was clearly printed on the ticket. The notice adjacent to the deck chairs was merely an invitation to treat. The ticket was not merely a receipt but it amounted to a written contract detailing the terms by which the parties agreed to be bound.


Chapelton’s appeal was successful. The ticket was held to be a receipt and the conditions by which BUDC were held to have offered the chairs for hire were those contained in the notice, and the notice did not contain any exclusion clause. BUDC had not, therefore, brought Chapelton’s attention to the clause and they could not rely on it.