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Compliance And Public Authority System

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Question:

Discuss about the Compliance and Public Authority System.
 
 

Answer:

Introduction:

The given case attracts the law of Contract prevailing in the United Kingdom, as both of the Companies, that is, Rocktrades and Shifters are based in the United Kingdom. According to the Contract Law of the United Kingdom, there are two types of contract terms- implied and expressed terms of contract[1]. The party making the offer of a contract must state the terms and conditions of contract clearly, without leaving any doubts or ambiguity, which must be understandable and clear to the other party[2]. The law also states that when one party signs a contract it is deemed that he/she has signed the same after carefully going through the whole written contract and such party cannot claim any damages from the other party by reason of not reading the contract before signing[3]. In addition, a contract must contain the elements of a valid contract, including the intention of the parties to form a lawful contract.

In the given case, Rocktrades, a Company specializing in transportation of minerals entered into a contract with Shifters, a Company that gives sea going barges on hire, for transportation of minerals form UK to France. Before they signed the contract, Shifters had sent a letter to Rocktrades stating the amount to be paid for hiring the sea going barges and also mentioned the capacity of minerals it can carry in terms of weight. The letter did not state anything about the carrying capacity of the barges in terms of volume. In a meeting, prior to the signing of the contract between the two, Rocktrades had enquired from the representative of Shifters, Sharon, about the carrying capacity in volume. Sharon quoted a figure on the basis of her honest recollection on the ship’s documents. Rocktrades signed a written agreement, where nothing was mentioned about the volume of goods which the barges can carry. Later on it was found that the volume capacity as quoted by Sharon was wrong and the actual capacity was way less than the figure, quoted by Sharon. Hence, Rocktrades suffered a loss for such wrong quotation. In this case Rocktrades cannot claim damages for the loss on the ground that Sharon misquoted the volume figure and there was a breach of contract by Shifters. It is so because Sharon did not misquote the volume figure with any wrong intention and moreover, there was no mentioning of the volume capacity in the written contract, which was signed by Rocktrades and according to the contract law it is deemed that Rocktrades has signed the agreement after reading it carefully and Rocktrades cannot claim any damages from Shifters in this case as the signed agreement did not contain anything about the specific carrying capacity of the barges in terms of volume[4].

Therefore, in this case, the Rocktrades cannot claim damages from Shifters as according to the contract law, Rocktrades has been deemed to have read the contract carefully and signed it and in the contract there was no mentioning about the volume capacity of the barges, which was the actual reason of the loss that occurred.

 

In the given case, the issue is whether there is any alternative or additional way, by which Rocktrades can claim damages from Shifters.

According to the Contract Law a buyer/hiring party/receiving party cannot seek any damages from the seller/hirer/provider as according to the Contract Law there are no remedies for loss due to negligence of the buyer/hiring party/receiving. On the other hand, the law of tort, which is highly applicable in UK, states that the company shall be liable for any wrong act or negligence of an employee, where the act or negligence of an employee causes damage to another[5]. This is also known as vicarious liability.

In the given case, as there is no remedy for the damages caused under the Contract law. Rocktrades can seek remedies for the damages from Shifters under the law of tort, in connection to the provisions for negligence of an employee. It is so because in this case, Sharon, the representative of Shifters, gave an estimated figure of the capacity of the barges carrying capacity in terms of volume, when asked by Rocktrades. This estimated figure, stated by Sharon was out of honest recollection. Hence, it was not intentional, but was definitely an act of negligence on the part of Sharon, as Sharon did not take the care to state the correct figure properly, which was her duty to state, being the representative of Shifters. Therefore, as the law of tort states that a company will be liable, if an employee of that company has committed a breach of duty, leading to negligence or any other wrongful acts[6]. Rocktrades can take up actions against Shifters under the law of tort for claiming damages, as Sharon, Shifter’s representative, committed negligence in providing Rocktrades with the correct figure of the carrying capacity of the barges in terms of volume, which was one of her duty as the representative[7]. It is also to be mentioned that Shifters is vicariously liable to pay damages to Rocktrades under the law of tort.

Therefore, in this case, no remedy is available under the Contract Law and Rocktrades can only seek help of the law of Tort as an alternative, to claim damages for the loss caused by the lack of care by Sharon, the representative of Shifters as Shifters is vicariously liable for the negligent act of Sharon. 

The rule for international treaties is that it shall be applicable and made mandatory for countries who are parties to it and not for countries who are not parties to it. In countries where it is applicable, the laws of the country must be in accordance with the Treaty provisions and in a situation that calls for the Treaty’s application, the Treaty provisions must prevail, even though the local law or any law contradicts it[8].

In the given case, Shifters state that the quarrying of minerals Rocktrades is illegal according to the Cliff Heritage Treaty, one of the International Maritime Treaties, as the Treaty was drafted by the International Society for the Preservation of Pretty Coastlines and prohibits the quarrying of minerals to prevent damage of coastlines. The treaty will only apply in UK, if UK is a party to the Treaty and Shifters will not be liable for any payment of damages to Rocktrades, as the business of Rocktrades is illegal according to the Treaty and the contract will become invalid[9]. In this case, as UK is not a party to the Treaty, this Treaty will not be applicable in UK. On the other hand, if the Treaty provisions had been applicable, Shifters and Rocktrades, both would have been held liable for breach of the provisions of the Treaty and the contract would have been completely void[10].

Conclusion:  

Therefore, in this case, the Treaty will not be applicable as both the Companies belong to UK and UK is not a party to the Treaty. Hence, Shifters can be made liable to pay damages under the provisions of the law of tort for negligence on the part of its employee and in case the Treaty was applicable in UK, then both the Companies would have been liable for breach of law according to the Treaty provisions, making the whole contract void.

 

Bibliography:

Bagenstos, Samuel R. "Formalism and Employer Liability Under Title VII." U. Chi. Legal F. (2014): 145.

Chamallas, Martha. "Two Very Different Stories: Vicarious Liability Under Tort and Title VII Law." Ohio St. LJ 75 (2014): 1315.

Chen-Wishart, Mindy. Contract law. Oxford University Press, 2012.

Chirelstein, Marvin. Chirelstein's Concepts and Case Analysis in the Law of Contracts, 7th (Concepts and Insights Series). West Academic, 2013.

Conrad, Courtenay R., and Emily Hencken Ritter. "Treaties, tenure, and torture: The conflicting domestic effects of international law." The Journal of Politics 75.2 (2013): 397-409.

Kraska, James, and Raul Pedrozo. International maritime security law. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2013.

McKendrick, Ewan. Contract law: text, cases, and materials. Oxford University Press (UK), 2014.

McKendrick, Ewan. Force Majeure and frustration of contract. CRC Press, 2013.

Oberdiek, John. "Introduction: Philosophical Foundations of the Law of Torts." (2014).

Young, Oran R. Compliance & Public Authority: A Theory with International Applications. Routledge, 2013.

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