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-" COAL CARRIAGE ON THE TAFF…

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COAL CARRIAGE ON THE TAFF VALE RAILWAY, OVER Y-20,000 AT STAKE. JUDGMENT FOR THE COMPANY. In the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice on Monday, before Mr. Justice Day, sitting without a jury, the case of the Taff Vale Railway Company v. Davies and Sons (Limited) came on for hearing. Mr. Balfour Browne, Q.C., and Mr. Noble were counsel for the plaintiffs; Mr. Moulton, Q.C., Mr. Robson, Q.C., and Mr. Shaw represented the defendants. Mr. Balfour Browne, in opening the case, said this action was brought to recover the sum of j £ 4,180 14s. 3d., which the railway company said was due from the defendants to them for carriage of coal from certain collieries in the Rhondda Valley over the Taff Vale line to a j unction with the Barry Railway Company. THE CLAIM was made up of £105 for telegrams and £ 4,074 for tonnage charges, and the defendants paid into court the Y,105 for the telegrams and £ 287 las. for -tonnage, which would have left £ 3.787 7s. 4d. in dispute. But the plaintiffs then discovered that there was an error in calculating to the extent of Y,26 13s. 10d.. and they also found defendants had paid them £ 2,300, leaving the claim at present before his lordship at £ 1,460 13s. 6d. The question whether the plaintiffs were entitled to that sum depended very largely upon the construction of Acts of Parliament. The learned counsel then gave a history of the dock enterprise in the locality from 1839, when the West Bute Dock was made, the Taff Vale line being opened from Merthyr to -■Cardiff in the following year. Having dealt with the construction of Penarth Harbour and the various conditions under which the different con- cerns were held, the learned counsel said ill 1879 the Taff Vale Company promoted a Bill in Parlia- ment to alter certain rates and tolls, and Lord Bute, fearing that the Taff Vale Company might IN ORDER TO DIVERT TRAFFIC from his Cardiff Docks, charge lower rates to Penarth—which they had an obvious interest in doing, as they would, not only get the rates upon the railway, but the dues upon the ships entering the docks—opposed the Bill, and got a clause inserted into it which practically provided that all places in Cardiff should be treated as equi- distant, and that no lower rate should be charged to Penarth than to the Bute Docks. That was the first recognition of grouping which entered into an Act of Parliament, and Lord Bute always saw that that protection was granted in all subsequent Parliamentary Bills. After further argument, in reply to the judge, Mr. Browne said the ultimate question was whether the Taff Vale Company had charged the rates they were authorised to charge between the collieries and certain junctions where the traffic was handed over to the Barry Railway Company. Mr. Robson said the defendants' case was that from the collieries to Hafod Junction the Taff Company did not charge them the same low mile- age rate as they were charging to other collieries. The defendants said that in carrying over their line to Hafod the Taff Company must charge the same lowest mileage rate that they were charging to any body for carrying coal over their line. Mr. Balfour Browne argued that the traffic delivered at Hafod was not to be delivered at the lowest rates, this provision of Parliament as to lowest rates only applying to Treforest Junction. But if the lowest rates did apply to Hafod, then he said they were charging those lowest rates. If the defendants won in this case, it would be giving a preference to the Barry Company, which was, no doubt, what they wanted, and NO DOUBT THE BARRY COMPANY WERE AT THE BACK OF THIS APPLICATION. Finally, he said the defendants could not take advantage of the section in the Barry Act about the lowest rates because that was not a section between the Taff Company and the public, but between the Barry and the Taff Companies. If there was any dispute between the companies they must go to the railway commissioners sitting as arbitrators. Mr. Robson, for the defendants, said it was an entirely new point to his clients that plaintiffs should set up that the question of the lowest rates applied only to the traffic exchanged at Treforest Junction and not to coal brought to Hafod Junc- tion. He submitted that this contention was wholly bad and was inconsistent with what was known as the Valleys Clause of the Taff Vale Railway Act of 1879, which prohibited them treat- ing the collieries in one valley preferentially to those in another. The same policy must apply to the clause inserted in the Barry Act of 1888, be- cause Treforest Junction was associated with one valley and Hafod Junction with the other, and if the lowest rates did not apply to both junctions the valley which was associated with Hafod would be prejudiced. The plaintiffs had chosen, under an agreement with Lord Bute, to give his lordship certain advantages—and very properly so, no doubt—with regard to his docks at Cardiff. VHEN THE BARRY COMPANY went for running powers over the Taff Vale they were given, instead, what he might call the most favoured-notion clause, which was that the Taff Vale should allow all freighters sending their soods to Barry Dock the lowest" mileage" rates —not the lowest gross" rates, as plaintiffs claimed to charge. He further contended that the defendants were right in insisting upon taking advantage of the clause inserted in the Barry Act, for that could not be regarded in the nature of a private agreement, as it was for the benefit of the public as well as for the Barry Company. Mr. Moulton also addressed his lordship in sup- port of the views of the defendant. Mr. Justice Day, in giving judgment, said he had come to the conclusion that coal handed to the Barry Company at Hafod was entitled to what- ever privileges were given to minerals coming from the northward of Treforest, and to that extent the defendants were right. But he was not at all satisfied that the traffic handed to the Barry, either at Hafod or Treforest, had BEEN OVERCHARGED BY THE TAFF TALE COMPANY. He believed Parliament intended the Barry Clause to apply to the existing state of things when the Act was passed, and that was a system of grouping, having as a standard of distance the West Bute Dock. He thought the plaintiffs were right in saying that that they had not charged a higher rate of mileage on their system than they were entitled to charge under the arrangement they had made. On the question whether the defendants were entitled to set up the Barry clause as against the plaintiffs' claim, he held that that clause did not confer any rights enforcible by the public, and was merely a stipulation between the Barry and the Taff Companies. He gave judgment for the plain- tiffs for an amount to be agreed upon between the parties, with leave to apply to him in case of difference. He also awarded the plaintiffs the costs. On the application of Mr. Robson execution was stayed with a view to appeal.

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