ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Jeremy Telman
Oklahoma City University
School of Law

Friday, July 13, 2007

Hadley v. Baxendale Marked at Ceremony

Aaa_3 One of contract law's enduring monuments, Hadley v. Baxendale, will soon have a monument of its own.  Authorities in Gloucester, England, will memorialize the case next week with two plaques to be placed on the old City Flour Mills building (left), where a broken shaft in 1853 led to one of the most important contracts damages cases of all time.  Here's the press release from the Central Gloucester Initiative:

Two plaques will be unveiled at a restored flour mill in Gloucester Docks next week (July 21, 2007, 6 p.m.) to celebrate an historic court ruling.

The ceremony will be performed by Franklin G, Snyder, Professor of Law at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, accompanied by the Mayor of Gloucester, Councillor Harjit Gill.

The unveiling is part of the fourth annual Gloucester International Legal Conference being held at the Oxstalls Campus of the University of Gloucestershire and attended by delegates from all over the world.

The theme of this year’s event is “Law and Justice in the Age of Globalisation,” and marks the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

Richard Dennery, City Centre manager and director of the Central Gloucester Initiative  which has organised  the conference, said: “The plaques on the City Flour Mills -- now called Priday’s Mill --  record the landmark Appeal Court ruling of 1854, when the Court of Exchequer judge laid down the principles on which damages should be calculated.  The case of Hadley v. Baxendale, is still used as a famous precedent in legal schools and courts throughout the world.”

Paul James, Leader of the Gloucester City Council, commented: “This is another example of the rich historic tapestry that makes Gloucester such a wonderful place.  So many buildings around the city have a story to tell.  These plaques help to do exactly that for our residents and many visitors.”

Gloucester Historic Buildings Ltd., a company formed by the Gloucester Civic Trust and Gloucester City Council to promote the city’s history, has provided the cast metal plaques with sponsorship from the Central Gloucester Initiative.

Civic Trust spokesman, Hugh Worsnip, said: “Soon after brothers Jonah and Joseph Hadley started their flour mill in 1850, the crankshaft of the steam engine broke and had to be taken to London to serve as a pattern for a new one.  There were delays in transporting the shaft, so Hadleys sued Mr Baxendale, senior partner of carriers, Pickfords, for their loss of income.

“The jury at Gloucester Assizes awarded the Hadleys damages of £50 –- a lot of money in those days –- but Mr Baxendale appealed, and, in a ruling which has had enormous consequences throughout the world ever since, the appeal judge laid down the foreseeability rules.  In other words, damages had to reflect what could reasonably have been foreseen by both parties at the time contracts are made.

“This ruling has provided employment for lawyers and arguments in law schools throughout the world ever since.  It is mentioned in no fewer than 2,000 sites on the Internet.  So the Gloucester Flour Mills truly made legal history.”

After the ceremony delegates to the conference will attend a civic reception, hosted by the Mayor, at the North Warehouse.

[Frank Snyder]

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