HC Deb 19 May 1899 vol 71 c1028
MR. MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster-General, whether his attention had been directed to a case tried at the Barrow County Court on 8th May, in which John Francis Ennis, of Barrow, sued Lawrence Lawrence E. Tennant, postmaster, of Barrow, for £2 loss by error in transmission of a telegram to A. Brown, the figures 62/6 in the telegraph form handed in at the office having been changed by negligence of the officials of the telegraph department into 26/-, and thus placed in the telegram received by A. Brown; whether the postal authorities admitted the error with an expression of regret, and refunded to Mr. Ennis the amount paid for the abortive telegram, but Mr. Ennis' action against the postmaster of Barrow was defended successfully on the ground that he had sued the wrong official; whether he is aware that Mr. Ennis, on 24th April, received an official letter from the Secretary of the General Post Office, London, stating that the Department was not liable for losses sustained in consequence of the inaccurate transmission of a telegram, and on what foundation is this alleged immunity based; whether, for the guidance of the public, he will say on whom the liability devolves for losses sustained in the transmission of telegrams by the negligence of officials in the postal service; and, whether directions will lie given that actions brought against the Department in consequence of such negligence should lie defended on the merits and not on technical points.


Both in the Postal Guide and on all telegram forms supplied to the public is printed the condition that the Postmaster-General will not be liable for any loss or damage which may be incurred or sustained by reason or on account of any mistake or default in the transmission or delivery of a telegram. This condition is one of the regulations which have statutory force by virtue of the Telegraph Act, 1868. 1 have not complete information to show that the postmaster of Barrow defended the action on the ground alleged in the second paragraph. But, of course, the true defence is that which I have now stated.

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