Olley v Marlborough Court Ltd – Case Summary

Olley v Marlborough Court Ltd

Court of Appeal

Citations: [1949] 1 KB 532; [1949] 1 All ER 127; [1949] LJR 360; (1949) 93 SJ 40.


The claimant contracted with the defendant to stay in a hotel room. Inside the room was a notice stating the defendant ‘will not hold themselves responsible for articles lost or stolen, unless handed to the manageress for safe custody. Valuables should be deposited for safe custody in a sealed package and a receipt obtained.’

The claimant’s possessions were stolen because the defendant’s employees were negligent in looking after the room key. When the claimant sued the defendant for loss of their possessions, the defendant tried to rely on the exclusion notice.

  1. Had the notice been incorporated into the parties’ contract?

The court held in favour of the claimant. The notice was not capable of forming part of the contract. This was because the contract was created at the front desk when the claimant bought the room. The claimant only saw the notice afterwards, which was too late. Additionally, properly construed, the notice in the bedroom did not exclude liability for loss or theft arising from the negligence of the defendant’s employees. It only excluded liability for non-negligent loss.

This Case is Authority For…

An exclusion or limitation term cannot be incorporated into the contract unless the claimant had reasonable notice of it before contracting.