General Principle of Liability (VI)
Statutory Exemption: So as to entitle him to damages for the “loss” of goods conveyed at “owner’s risk” by a railway administration, the owner must show an actual physical loss of the goods and it must be proved that such loss was due to the misconduct or willful neglect of the railway administration, its servants or agent.
The plaintiff sent fifteen tons of yams by the Nigerian Railway from Okuku to Iddo at “owner’s risk”. On arrival the yams were found to have deteriorated during transit to such an extent as to be practically valueless, and the plaintiff sued the railway for #226, the value o f the yams.
The defendant contended that the railway was absolutely protected by section 29(2) of the Railway Ordinance 1915, which states: A railway administration shall not be liable for the loss, destruction or deterioration of goods or animals carried or delivered for carriage by the railway at owner’s risk rates, except, in the case of goods, for the loss of a complete consignment or of a complete package forming part of a consignment caused by the misconduct or willful neglect of its servants or agents.
The plaintiff admitted that the complete consignment had arrived at Iddo and been tendered to him, but he contended that he had lost the entire value of the yams owing to the deterioration in quality, and he was accordingly entitled to damages.