INTERVIEW WITH CHAIRMAN OF THE C.M.U.A.
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Mr. R S. Shrapnell-Smith, C.B.R, Chairman of the C.M.U.A. interviewed at the offices of Mr. Walter Long's Petroleum Executive, to which he is giving his services, stated that he regarded the result of the defence as satisfactory in some respects but disappointing in others.
The C.M.TJ.A. had taken up Mr. Butt's case because they felt they could not see a member of the Association left alone to face a claim of such a nature. The defended action concerned a total of 21750, and the meagre recovery which the Weston U.D.C. had effected—only 2280—did not augur well for a further action which they threatened in respect of a claim for another 21500. The General Committee of the C.M.U.A. decided without hesitation that this attempt to obtain so much money from a member who had been using only two steam wagons must be fought as a matter of principle.
It was satisfactory to observe Mr. Justice Eve's remarks that excessive speed had not been proved, and that excessive loading, although admitted, had not accounted, to a material extent, for any damage. The C.M.U.A. always discouraged overloading, and they would not range themselves behind a member who deliberately and regularly, as part of his working system, overloaded his machines collectively, individually, Or as regards axle-weight. Whilst MT. Butt had overloaded on a certain number of occasions, he had underloaded on many more, although the deficiencies, neither in practice nor law, did not make good the excesses.
It was pleasing to observe the summary manner in which the Judge had dismissed the suggestion that B34 the use of such vehicles amounted to a legal nuisance, and had directed that costs were to be adjusted against the Weston U.D.C. in respect of this claim.
The disappointing part of the judgment, in Mr. Shrapnell-Smith's view„ was the refusal of the Judge to apportion. costs against the Weston U.D.C. in respect of that portion. of the claim (Arundel Road) upon which they had totally failed. Having regard to his Lordship's strictures upon certain points connected with the pleadings of the plaintiff Council, and his view as to the. unsatisfactory, nature of much of the evidence which they tendered, one might have expected the order to be that each side should bear its own costs.
He saw no occasion to regret the first important decision of the C.M.U.A. General Committee sincehis election as Chairman. He was sure the course taken would be endorsed by all the members, for the strength of the Association largely rested upon its ability to -come to the rescue of individuals who were threatened with unfair treatment, as had happened in the case of Mr. Butt. It Was probable that the whole of the Guarantee Fund might be expended in defraying the cost of the action. The fund was a little in excess of 24000, and was still open.
In conclusion,. the Chairman expressed his hopes that owners of steam wagons who had :been awaiting the result of the action woulkl not fail to apply for membership of the Association by writing to the Secretary, Mr: F. G. Bristow, 83, Pall Mall, S.W. There might be an appeal on points of law, as to which, therefore, he' expressed no opinion, but limited his present observations to the facts.