Report No. 38
Liability for Registered Articles in England
Under the (English) Post Office Act, 1953 (1 & 2 Eliz., 2, C. 36), section 8(1)(b), Post Office Regulations may make provisions (inter alia) as to the "registration" of postal packets. Under section 8(2) of the (English) Post Office Act, 1953, the "registration" of a postal packet shall not render the Crown in any manner liable for the loss of the packets or contents thereof, save as provided in section 9 of the Crown Proceedings Act, 1947. Under section 9(2) of the Crown Proceedings Act, 1947, the Crown is liable to the extent specified in that section.
Relevant portions of these provisions are extracted below:-
Extract of section 8 of the Post Office Act, 1953 (1 & 2 Eliz. 2, C. 36).
(2) Conditions of transit of postal packets.-Save as provided in section 9 of the Crown Proceedings Act, 1947, the registration of or giving of a receipt for a postal packet, or the giving or obtaining of a certificate of posting or delivery of a postal packet, shall not render the Crown in any manner liable for the loss of the packet or the contents thereof."
Extract from section 9(2) and section 9(5) of the Crown Proceedings Act, 1947
(10 & 11 Geo. 6, C. 44).
9. Liability in connection with postal packets.-"(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 13 of the Post Office Act, 1908, proceedings shall lie against the Crown under this sub-section in respect of loss of or damage to a registered inland postal packet, not being a telegram, in so far as the loss or damage is due to any wrongful act done or any neglect or default committed by a person employed as a servant or agent of the Crown while performing or purporting to perform his functions as such in relation to the receipt, carriage, delivery or other dealing with the packets:
(c) the amount recoverable in any such proceedings shall not in any event exceed the maximum amount which, under regulations made under section 81 of the Post Office Act, 1953 is available for compensating the persons aggrieved having regard to the fee paid in respect of the registration of the packet; and
(d) the Crown shall not be liable under this sub-section in respect of any packet unless such conditions as are prescribed by virtue of sub-section (5) of this section in relation to registered inland postal packets have been complied with in relation to that packet.
For the purposes of any proceedings under this sub-section, it shall be presumed, until the contrary is shown on behalf of the Crown, that the loss of or damage to the packet was due to some wrongful act done, or some neglect or default committed, by a person employed as a servant or agent of the Crown while performing or purporting to perform his functions as such in relation to the receipt, delivery or other dealing with the packet.
(5) Regulations may be made under section 81 of the Post Office Act, 1953, for prescribing the conditions to be observed for the purpose of this section in relation to registered under postal packets."
Thus, it appears that-
(a) the quantum of liability for "registered" postal packets in England would depend on the amount of fee paid, by virtue of section 9(2)(c) of the Crown Proceedings Act, 1947, which speaks of the "maximum amount".
(b) Further, the fee for "registration" in England is not a fixed one (as in India), but a varying one.
(c) "Registration" of a postal packet in England therefore, corresponds more to what is known as "insurance"1 under the Indian Post Office Act2, then to "registration" under the Indian Act3.
1. There appears to be no separate provision for "insurance", in the English Act.
2. Sections 30 to 33, Indian Post Office Act, 1898.
3. Section 28, Indian Post Office Act, 1898.