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Report No. 62

1B.7. English cases under Workmen's Compensation Act.-

In England, this general rule has been held to be applicable to the Workmen's Compensation Act also. Thus, it has been held that a British workman is not entitled to compensation in respect of an accident in foreign countries while working there, for a British employer1. In that case, an English workman in the employment of English contractors was sent out by them to Malta, to work for them there, and met with a fatal accident. It was held that his widow was not entitled to compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1906. It was also held that the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1906 had no application outside the territorial limits of the United Kingdom, except in the case of seamen and apprentices as provided by section 7 (of the 1906 Act).

Cozens Hardy M.R.2 said: "What is the widow's claim here? She is claiming, not as party to the contract, not as claiming any rights under a contract made by her or by any person through whom she claims, but she is simply claiming the performance by the defendants of a statutory duty, which statutory duty is said to be found in the Workmen's Compensation Act. Now, that brings us face to face with this proposition. What is the ambit of the statute and what is the scope of its operation? It seems to me reasonably plain that this is a case to which the presumption which is referred to in Maxwell on the Interpretation of statutes in the passage at page 213, which has been read by Mr. Waddy, must apply: "In the absence of an intention clearly expressed or to be inferred from its language, or from the object or subject-matter or history of the enactment, the presumption is that Parliament does not design its statutes to operate beyond the territorial limits of the United Kingdom."

Fletcher Moulton L.J. said in the same case: "And, as this is a statutory right, we are driven to inquire what is the ambit logically of the operation of the s ta tute".

"It clearly cannot apply universally all over the world, I have no doubt, for the reasons the Master of the Rolls has given, it applies to the United Kingdom alone. The accident must be one happening in the United Kingdom to a person there who has the status of a Workman to some employer who, in some way or another, is made liable to the jurisdiction of this Act."

1. Tomah,' v. Pearson, (1909) 2 KB 61 (CA).

2. Tomlin v. Pearson, (1909) 2 KB 61 (64) (CA).

Workmens Compensation Act, 1923 Back

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