Mersey Docks & Harbour Board v. Coggins & Griffiths (Liverpool)
Master/servant relationship – persons who must be protected. Direct
control, only if control over what work and how it is done.
Coggins and Griffiths hired a crane and driver from the Mersey Docks
and Harbour Board. the driver, Mr Newall, drove the crane
negligently and trapped Mr Mcfarlane injuring him. The contract
between the Board and the hirers stated that the driver was to
become their employee for the duration of the hire. The question was
whether the Board were liable to Mr Mcfarlane as Mr Newalls
principal employers or whether the hirers now bore responsibility.
It was held as a fact that the hirers had power to control what Mr
Newall lifted with the crane but not how he lifted it.
Control over Mr Newall's work had not passed to the hirers. It is
not to be held that control had readily passed. Only if there is
control over what work the person does and how he does it will
control be held to pass. The trial judge awarded damages against the
appellants. An appeal against this decision was dismissed. The Board
appealed to the House of Lords. The appeal was dismissed.
Lord Macmillan: "That the crane driver was in general the servant of
the appellant board is indisputable. The appellant board engaged
him, paid him, prescribed the jobs he should undertake and alone
could dismiss him." The person hiring the crane had some control but
the real control was with Mersey Docks. The ultimate control is the
right to dismiss.
A servant is one who is subject to the orders and control of an
employer .... whether or not the persons are running their own