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Robinson v Balmain New Ferry Co. Ltd

278 words (1 pages) Case Summary

21st Oct 2021 Case Summary Reference this In-house law team

Jurisdiction / Tag(s): UK Law

Law Case Summary

Robinson v Balmain New Ferry Co. Ltd [1910] AC 295

False imprisonment – contract relating to entry and exist from a ferry wharf


Robinson (R) paid a penny to cross on a ferry, however he narrowly missed the ferry and changed his mind about crossing. R attempted to leave through the gate he came through, however it required another penny to be paid to leave. R refused to pay the penny because he had not crossed on the ferry. Balmain New Ferry Co. (D) forcibly prevented R from leaving until he paid the penny. R raised an action for false imprisonment.


R claimed that he was falsely imprisoned due to the forcible prevention of his leaving the ferry wharf without paying a penny to leave.

Decision / Outcome

A person can be legitimately prevented from leaving if they had entered an earlier contracted permitting so. When R entered the ferry gate, he agreed to pay a penny on both entering and leaving the ferry. This bound him to a contract and D was entitled to impose a reasonable condition before allowing him to pass through their turnstile from a place to which he had gone of his own free will. This case narrows the law on false imprisonment, following the case of Bird v. Jones [1845] 7 QB 742 in which it was held that false imprisonment is constituted by total (and not partial) obstruction, however in the present case it is held that it even where a person is totally obstructed it will not constitute false imprisonment if there is a reasonable condition to passing.

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UK law covers the laws and legislation of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Essays, case summaries, problem questions and dissertations here are relevant to law students from the United Kingdom and Great Britain, as well as students wishing to learn more about the UK legal system from overseas.

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