Chapelton v Barry Urban DC – Case Summary

Chapelton v Barry Urban District Council

Court of Appeal

Citations: [1940] 1 KB 532; [1940] 1 All ER 356.


The claimant hired a deck chair for use on the beach from the defendant, the local council. Next to the pile of deck chairs was a notice stating the terms of the hire contract. It did not mention any exclusion or limitation clauses. When the claimant hired the chair, they were given a ticket. This ticket had further contractual terms on the back. One term stated that ‘[t]he council will not be liable for any accident or damage arising from the hire of the chair.’ The claimant glanced at the ticket, but did not read it because he did not realise it contained contractual terms. He thought it was merely proof of his hire.

When the claimant sat on the chair, it gave way and injured him. When the claimant sued them in negligence, the defendant relied on the exclusion of liability clause. The claimant responded that the clause had not been incorporated into the parties’ contract.

  1. Was the claimant bound by the exclusion clause?

The Court of Appeal held in favour of the claimant. The ticket was merely a receipt for the transaction. The terms of the contract the parties’ agreed were those contained on the notice near the pile of deck chairs. That notice contained no exclusion clause. The defendant was therefore liable.

This Case is Authority For…

A clause in a document which a reasonable person would not appreciate contained contractual terms is not automatically incorporated into a contract. It will only be incorporated into the contract if the other party gives reasonable notice of the clause before the contract is formed.