1. These six Rules were issuedat the instance of plaintiffs in six applications filed in the Court of Small Causes, Calcutta, under Section 38, Presidency Small Causes Courts Act, against R. S. N. Company in five cases and the I. G. N. and R. S. N. Companies in the sixth.
2. The facts in issue and the point in dispute are alike. The plaintiffs in all the six cases sent consignments of goods through the steamer company to East Bengal, now Eastern Pakistan. In each of the cases there was a forwarding note which was the basis of the contract and Clause II is as follows:
'The company undertake to carry goods over their own transport system only. Where goods are accepted by the company for carrying beyond their own transport system, and where goods are either wholly or partly carried by the other carrying administrations, in the matter of carrying beyond the company's ' own transport system, the company act merely as agents for such other carrying administration. The contract of carriage shall be deemed to have been entered into between the consignor (and the consignee) on the one hand and the one or other of the various carrying administrations, including the company on the other hand that may at any material time be in control or possession of the goods for carriage to destination and/or delivery to the consignee, and that any liability for loss, damage, destruction, partial or total deterioration, detention and delivery of the goods shall solely rest on the respectivecarrying administrations in whose charge the goods may have been placed at the time such loss, damage etc. are found to have arisen. In case of goods accepted by the company for carrying beyond their own system of transport, the consignor (and consignee) shall be deemed to have agreed that the company has accepted such goods on the footing that the consignor (and the consignee) has entered into a series of contracts with the different carrying administrations, and that the company will not be liable for any loss, damage etc. which may happen when the transit over the company's system of transport is over, and when the goods are not directly under their control.'
3. This can leave no room for doubt that the steamer people were contracting as principals so far as transport over their own system was concerned but as agents for known principals, that is, the railway companies, so far as transport over the railway system was concerned. The clause also leaves no room for doubt that so far as transport over the steamer company's system was concerned they fully undertook to be liable for any loss, damage etc., by them selves or agents or servants, but as far as loss or damage etc. caused when in transit over the railway system was concerned they as agents were not to be liable for loss caused by their principal or the agents or servants of the principal. The liability for the loss will be that of the railway company as principal.
4. The main contention it appears before the courts was that this offended against S. 8, Carriers Act. Section 8 of the Carriers Act reads as follows:
'Notwithstanding anything hereinbefore contained every common carrier shall be liable to the owner for loss of or damage to any property delivered to such carrier to be carried where such loss or damage shall have arisen from criminal act of the carrier or any of his agents or servants.'
That section lays down two things. First, that the principal is always to be liable for any loss or damage etc., caused by the principal himself or the agents of the principal or the servants. Secondly, any contract to the contrary will be void. In the present case, in Clause II, care has particularly been taken to retain in each case whether the transport system is that of the steamer company or of the railway administration that the liability of the principal for acts by himself or his agents or servants remains intact. There is nothing in S. 8 or in any part of the law of contract or of law of carriers by which an agent contracting on be-half of known principal is prevented from restricting his own personal liability for the acts of the principal or the agents or servants of the principal. Therefore the Full Bench of the Calcutta Court of Small Causes rightly decided that clause II did not offend against Section 8 of the Carriers Act. The decisions cited before it do not cover the point now raised at all. They were cases dealing with principal absolving himself from liability for the acts of agents or servants which is not the case now before us.
5. Under the circumstances all the six Rules are discharged with costs.
6. I agree.