carriage of goods by rail(problem question)

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Q1. Recently the Welsh Railway Company (WRC) agreed to transport 1,000 tonnes of Welsh leeks from Cardiff to London. The leeks were to be collected from Dai who was a leek farmer and had sold the leeks to the London Welsh Rugby Club (LWRC). Dai had often contacted WRC when he needed leeks to be transported and always received a small payment in return for loading and covering wagons sent by WRC for the carriage of his leeks. The WRC then sent a number of open wagons to the railway siding next to Dai’s farm. After loading the leeks Dai covered them with tarpaulins which he then secured to the wagons. When the locomotive arrived to collect the wagons the driver quickly looked over the wagons and then attached them to the locomotive for the journey to London. The driver was employed by the London Railway Company (LRC) to whom the carriage of the wagons had been subcontracted by WRC. WRC had hired the wagons from Welsh Wagon Hire Ltd (WWH). Near Swindon an accident occurred at a level crossing. The barrier to road vehicles was not closed in time so that a heavy lorry was crossing the track just as the train was approaching it. A resulting fire destroyed half of the wagons and the leeks contained in them. The remaining wagons and the leeks in them survived the fire and were kept at a nearby open siding to await collection by a further train which would be driven by a driver also employed by LRC. On the arrival of the train LWRC came to the railway station to take delivery of the remaining leeks. It was then discovered that half of these leeks were missing as were the tarpaulins which were supposed to be secured to the wagons. Investigation has revealed that a heavy storm had occurred when these wagons were waiting at the siding near Swindon. The tarpaulins had blown off the wagons and the missing leeks were blown out of them during the remainder of the journey. LWRC took delivery of what was left of the leeks and were handed a delivery note which named them as the consignee. On the back of the delivery note were terms and conditions which include terms which use the same wording as clauses 10 and 12.8 of the DB Cargo UK Ltd trading conditions and contained the same definition of force majeure as used in those conditions. Discuss the legal issues in respect of the potential liabilities of WRC and LRC arising from these facts.

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