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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

dog in transit ~ and the decision of Court on 'walking at Lahore'

Movement of  goods from one location to another is transportation and coverage during this period is Marine Insurance. Many a times, frustrated and exhausted travellers complain of being treated like animals.  I had earlier posted about the transportation of  a female crocodile - Tomistoma schlegelii (or false gharial),  being flown in the cargo hold of a passenger flight for pairing with male at Madras Crocodile bank.

Miles away, the river Mersey flows in North West England. Its name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon language and translates as "boundary river". The river may have been the border between the ancient kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria.

Among various General insurance policies, is coverage for pet animals, more specifically dog insurance.   In India, this policy offers coverage to indigenous, crossbred and exotic dogs which are pets, watch dogs, sheep dogs… and provides coverage against death due to accident and / or diseases during the period of insurance to the dogs.   The insured animal must be  suitably identified by  tattooing; nose print; photograph etc., Normal physical identification marks and breed, sex, age etc. should be clearly described in the Veterinary Certificate and Proposal form. The Policy may be extended  to cover transit risks as also accidental poisoning and the like.   There is liability arising out bites too.    Policies would exclude rabies, canine distemper and the like.

Many many decades ago, a  Lloyd's policy insured a dog from Mersey to Bombay and thence by rail to Lahore. It contained in addition to the common form conditions, the following clause : " This insurance is against all risks, including mortality from any cause, jettison, and washing overboard,but walking at Lahore, Punjab, to be deemed a safe arrival."

In the transit the dog was injured in one leg and on arrival could only walk on three legs. A claim was preferred on the Insurers and when the Insurers refused payment, it was made subject matter of a Court of Law.

It was held that the Insurers were liable on the grounds that (1) the words " all risks " included the injury suffered ; (2) " walking at Lahore " meant walking in the usual way, i.e., on four legs. But the Judge expressed an obiter dictum that " walking at Lahore, etc." did not merely qualify the risk of mortality but all the risks covered.   
PS :  Obiter dictum, the Latin word would mean ‘by the way’ i.e., a remark in a judgment that is ‘said in passing’ – a concept derived from English common law. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

19th Feb 2015.

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