Balmain New Ferry Co Ltd v Robertson

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Citation: (1904) 4 CLR 379 This information can be found in the Casebook: Paterson, Robertson & Duke, Contract: Cases and Materials (Lawbook Co, 11th ed, 2009), pp. 369-70


Background facts

  • A ferry company utilised a private wharf in the course of their business of running a steam ferry form the City of Sydney to Balmain.
  • Passengers of the ferry would pay at the turnstiles.
  • A notice board near the turnstiles presented the conditions:
    • “Notice. A fare of one penny must be paid on entering or leaving the wharf. No exception will be made to this rule, whether the passenger has travelled by ferry or not.”
  • Appellant (Robertson) paid the fare and stepped onto the wharf. He missed the ferry, and tried to leave the wharf, when he was asked to pay another penny. he refused.

Legal issues


  • issue of reasonable notice does not apply here, where the Appellant had previous dealings with the Respondent which made clear his knowledge and acceptance of the terms being incorporated (paying an extra fee for the wharf).
  • "Having travelled on many occasions backward and forward by the company's boats, and, as he says, paid his fare to the officers at the turnstiles, he must have been aware that the company's method of conducting their business was to release the turnstiles only on payment of a penny.[1]"


  1. (1904) 4 CLR 379, 391
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