Thompson v London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company [1903] 1 KB 41

Accident to railway passenger; passenger unable to read; effect of exclusion clause


Thompson was unable to read and she travelled on a train with her daughter and niece. On the back of her ticket it was printed that the tickets were issued subject to the terms outlined in the company’s time tables. The time tables contained a clause purporting to exclude liability for any injuries to passengers, howsoever caused. Thompson slipped and sustained injuries as a result of the company’s negligence, and claimed damages.


The company contended they had taken reasonable steps to bring the exclusion clause to the attention of their customers, as the contract terms were clearly referenced on the tickets. They argued the taking of the ticket with the knowledge that terms and conditions applied amount to an acceptance of those terms, and an agreement to be bound by them. Thompson contended she had not read the terms because she was unable to read and the terms were difficult to obtain because they were contained within a time table which customers had to purchase separately. She also argued that the condition was unusual and, as such, special steps should have been taken to draw it to her attention.


Thompson was unsuccessful in her claim. It was irrelevant that she was unable to read. The company had taken sufficient steps to bring the terms to customers’ attention in clear and legible print. Accepting the ticket for travel constituted acceptance of the terms of travel, and the reference to the time tables amounted to adequate notice of the existence of the terms and of their contents.