THE TITANIC'S BARBER : IMPORTANT QUESTION IN COMPENSATION LAW

HAMPSHIRE INDEPENDENT

SOUTHAMPTON CROWN COURT

There was a further batch of Titanic cases at the Southampton County Court on Tuesday, before His Honour Judge Gye, but they possessed no feature of special interest.

THE TITANIC’S BARBER

IMPORTANT QUESTION

IN

COMPENSATION LAW

At the Southampton County Court, on Tuesday, before His Honour Judge Gye, there was a case under the Workmen’s Compensation Act in which the claim of a widow of a Titanic victim was referred for arbitration, the amount of the claim being £300.

The applicant was Mrs, Leah Klein, of Oakley-road, Southampton, the widow of the second class ship’s barber on the liner, and the respondents were the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company (White Star Line). The former was represented by Mr. S. H. Emanuel, LL.D., instructed by Messrs. C. A. Emanuel and Emanuel, while Mr. Douglas Knocker, instructed by Messrs. Lamport, Bassitt and Hiscock (for Messrs. Hill, Dickinson and Co., Liverpool) appeared for the Company.

The deceased man was paid, it was stated, at a rate of a shilling a month, being provided with a room in which to pursue his calling as a barber, and for the sale of toilet and smokes’ requisites, his earnings, it being stated in the particulars, being approximately £3 a week. The filed reply of the Company stated that the whole of the deceased’s takings, in respect of his attendance on customers, and for the sale of his stock-in-trade, belonged to deceased, no part being paid to the respondents. In order to satisfy the Board of Trade requirements, the deceased signed the ship’s articles, but the respondents contend that there was in fact, no contract of service with them. The deceased, it was further contended by the respondents, was not a workman within the meaning of the Act, and that the applicant was not entitled to relief asked. There was payment into court of £150, but other proceedings were subsequently taken. Mrs. Klein, who said her husband was second-class barber on the Titanic, added that she received £2 per week from her husband, the rent being paid in addition. Her husband was in the habit of selling souvenirs, lace and toilet requisites, but these were supplied him on sale or return.

Mr. Knocker, for the Company, explained that subsequently to the payment into court under the rules of the Act, the applicant applied for arbitration. The payment of a shilling was merely nominal, the man being really not a servant of the Company, as a barber was not a necessity. The Judge observed that people travelling on a ship would have shaving and hair-cutting, and the Company had to provide a man to do it.

Mr. Knocker said there was no evidence that a barber was necessary on ship board; indeed, it was an innovation. The man, he submitted, was not employed by the Company except in respect of the 1s a month. Mr. Emanuel argued that the only question at the moment before the court was as to the adequacy of the £150 paid in, and the Judge, after hearing Mr. Knocker, suggested that evidence should be called before the point of law was decided.

A former second-class barber on the Olympic, occupying the same position as the deceased man did on Titanic, was called to state his average earnings, but Mr. Emanuel objected, because the estimate of the deceased’s average earnings of £3 a week was based on what he earned on another ship. The point was argued at some length, and the evidence finally accepted. The witness said he received 1s. a shave on the Olympic, making about 12s. a-day. Hair-cutting, at 1s a time, brought in 4s or 5s a-day. Souvenirs brought in £3. 10s. a-week, toilet requisites £1. 5s. a-week, and tips, shampooing and an allowance for board and lodgings brought up the figure to £26. 1s. for the round voyage lasting a fortnight. The witness added that the earnings were not so large on the Majestic, the tariff being lower. In cross-examination, witness said he only made two voyages on the Olympic, in April and May of this year.

Replying Mr. Emanuel, the witness explained that he would not swear that he made £8. 8s. on the round voyage out of shaving. The barber business represented, he estimated, about £10 for the round voyage. In further cross-examination, witness put the profits of the whole business for the voyage at £20. On the Teutonic his average profit was £8 a voyage.

James Thompson, Shipping Master, in the employ of the White Star Line, said that all the Company provided for the barber was the room and the trade fixtures. The barber did not shave the crew.

Judgement was reserved. [Page 4.]


THE TITANIC’S BARBER

COMPENSATION CASE --- JUDGEMENT

His Honour Judge Gye on Thursday delivered the award in the workmen’s compensation case of Klein v. Oceanic Steam Navigation Co., in which the wife of the second-class barber of the Titanic, made a claim consequent upon her husband’s death. The Company paid £150 into the court, and subsequently sought to withdraw it, on the plea that the deceased man was not a workman within the meaning of the Act, evidence being adduced that the barber on the Olympic, a sister ship, was earning at the rate of over £400 a year. – His Honour said that a witness had been called by the Company as to the amount which he received in a similar capacity on the Olympic. The evidence had been objected to, but he allowed it, subject to the objection. The witness gave details of his receipts from various sources, which amounted to about £400 a year. Dealing with the question of the payment into court, his Honour said the application to withdraw that sum and to withdraw any admission of liability, was made on two grounds. The first was that the money having been paid into court before proceedings began, it could be withdrawn by respondents at their will and desire, and secondly that it had been paid in under a mistake of fact, the mistake being that it was paid in under the belief that the deceased was a workman within the meaning of the Act. The Company now contended that deceased was not a workman within the meaning of the Act. His Honour said he had considered the Act and rules, and had come to the conclusion that, in the circumstances of this case, the respondents were not entitled to withdraw the payment into court. He found as facts that the deceased was a workman of the respondents who were his employers within the meaning of the Act; that deceased was the paid servant of, and received remuneration for his services to the respondents; that deceased was not an independent contractor, and that his average earnings amounted to at least £100 a year for three years prior to his death. He awarded the applicant the sum of £300 as compensation, with costs.

Mr. Lamport, for the White Star Line, said the Company had behaved in a most generous way to everyone, and had no desire to avoid liability in a case where they were held to be liable. There were certain questions which they thought it their duty to contest, and this was one of such importance that they asked that the money should not be distributed pending appeal.

The question was reserved for the attendance of Mr. Douglas Knocker, the White Star Company’s counsel, who would arrive later.

The award, as entered by his Honour later in the day, provided doe a stay of execution pending appeal on the terms that notice of appeal be given within twenty-one days’ and that the appeal be entered within three months. Further that the respondents pay the applicant £4 a month from the present date until the hearing and decision of the appeal.

The case was first before the Court on Tuesday, and will be found reported on page 4.

[page 7.]

Related Biographies:

Herbert Klein

Relates to Place:

Southampton, Hampshire, England

Acknowledgements

Andrew Williams

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