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Livingstone V. Rawyards Coal Co. Notes

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Livingstone V. Rawyards Coal Co. Revision

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LIVINGSTONE V. RAWYARDS COAL CO. FACTS The Appellant is the owner of a small feu of about an acre and a half in extent near Airdrie. The surface of the ground is occupied by miners' cottages or houses, and underneath there was coal. When the Appellant bought the feu some time ago he appears to have been under the impression that the minerals under this feu, as under all the ground which surrounded it, had been reserved by the superior. In point of fact that was a mistake. The superior kept in his hand the minerals under all the ground around, but under this acre and a half the coal had not been reserved in the grant of the feu now owned by the Appellant. The Appellant, therefore, although he did not know it, was the owner of the coal under this acre and a half of ground. The superior granted the whole property in all the surrounding land to the company who are the Respondents, and they, just as the Appellant was ignorant of his rights, appear to have been ignorant of theirs. They appear to have been under the impression that they had the whole of the coal, including the coal under the acre and a half. They had the coal which surrounded the acre and a half, but they had not the coal which was underneath the acre and a half. In the process of their working they worked out the coal under the acre and a half, and when that was done it was ascertained (it is unnecessary to observe how the discovery came to be made) what the real titles were, and that this coal really belonged to the Appellant, and did not belong to the Respondents, who had got it and disposed of it. I ought to add that in working under the acre and a half of ground they had, by letting down or cracking the ground, caused some damage to the miners' cottages which stood upon the surface of the acre and a half. QUESTION Now, my Lords, under these circumstances the question arises, what is the measure of damage to which the Appellant is entitled?
HOLDING LORD CAIRNS Defendant's actions were not willful There is absent here the element of any wilful trespass or wilful taking of coal, which the person taking it knew did not belong to him. What was done was done in perfect ignorance, and there was no bad faith or sinister intention in that which was done. Neither of these elements occurring—neither the element of what I will call wilful trespass, nor the element of special and exceptional need of support—the case is one in which your Lordships have

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