(On Appeal from the Court of Appeal in England. )
Subject_Master and Servant — Workmen's Compensation Act 1897 (60 and 61 Vict. cap. 37) — “Serious and Wilful Misconduct” — Workman Using Hoist in Violation of Rules — Sec. 1 (2) (c).
The rules of a workshop provided that workmen were only to use a certain hoist when they were in charge of a load. There was nothing particularly mysterious or dangerous about the working of the hoist, and, unknown to their employers, the workmen often used it when not in charge of any load. A workman was injured while thus using it. Held that he had not been guilty of “serious and wilful misconduct” in the sense of the Act.
Opinions that “wilful” imports that the misconduct was deliberate and not merely thoughtless, and that “serious” applies to the misconduct itself and not to its consequences.
On the morning of the 20th August 1901 Johnson was working as a joiner in the allery of the erecting shop in the respondents’ works. The gallery ran round all four sideh of the erecting shop, and a large number of men were employed there. Access to the gallery from the floor below was gained by two wide and convenient staircases in the south and east sides thereof. At or about the centre of the east side of the gallery there was a lift and two steep and narrow spiral staircases communicating with the floor above. On the lift was a notice as follows:—“No one is allowed to use this hoist except in charge of a load.” The breakfast hour was eight o’clock, and shortly before eight o’clock Johnson was seen at work with his coat off. At a minute or two before eight o’clock Johnson was found in the lift with his coat on and without a load. The lift had descended below the floor of the gallery, and Johnson was crushed between the floor of the lift and the top of the doorway by which the lift was reached from the floor below. He died from his injuries on the 23rd August 1904. His widow claimed compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act 1897. This was refused by the County Court Judge of Lincolnshire and by the Court of Appeal, who ordered a new trial.
Johnson's widow appealed to the House of Lords.
At delivering judgment—
Judgment appealed from reversed.
Counsel for the Appellant— W. H. Owen—E. H. Chapman. Agents— C. J. Smith & Hudson, Solicitors.
Counsel for the Respondents — C. A. Russell, K.C.—T. Hollis Walker. Agents— R. F. & C. L. Smith, Solicitors.