Alderslade v Hendon Laundry Ltd – Case Summary

Alderslade v Hendon Laundry Ltd

Court of Appeal

Citations: [1945] KB 189; [1945] 1 All ER 244.


The claimant sent clothing to the defendant’s launderette. The contract between the parties stated that the ‘maximum amount allowed for lost or damaged articles is twenty times the charge made for laundering’. The defendant lost the clothing, and so the claimant sued for damages. The claimant’s losses were higher than twenty times the charge he paid for laundering. The defendant relied on the limitation clause. The claimant argued that it did not apply to clothing lost through negligence.

  1. How should the limitation clause be interpreted?

The Court of Appeal held in favour of the defendant. The only way the defendant could lose or damage the clothes here was through negligence. Bearing that in mind, the limitation clause had to apply to negligence. The defendant could therefore rely on the limitation clause.

This Case is Authority For…

Where the only real way in which damage can occur is through negligence, any limitation clause in the contract is likely to be construed as covering negligence. If there are other ways in which the defendant could be liable, a limitation clause is unlikely to be construed as covering negligence unless it expressly says so.