Slike strani






[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]



Law Publishers and Booksellers.





[blocks in formation]

Gaming-Lottery-Offer of Prize for Prediction of Number of Births and Deaths in London during Specified WeekChance-Skill.

The proprietor of a newspaper, by advertisement therein, offered to the readers of the paper a prize of money for a correct prediction of the number of male and female births and the number of deaths in London during a specified future week :-Held, that the offer did not constitute a lottery within the meaning of any of the statutes declaring lotteries to be unlawful.

Appeal from the decision of Lawrance, J., at the trial of the action ordering judgment to be entered for the defendant.

The action was brought to recover 1,000l. due to the plaintiff from the defendant under a contract by the defendant of November 13, 1897, to pay to the

plaintiff the sum of 1,000l. in a certain event which happened on December 10, 1897.

The defendant was the proprietor of a weekly newspaper called the Rocket, and in the issue of the paper of November 13, 1897, he published in the paper the following offer:

"1,000l. for you!!! A fortune easily won. Your golden chance in life has come to win a fortune easily without working for it. Any man, woman, or child may win a prize of 1,000l. herewith offered to readers of the Rocket. You have only to answer a simple question in accordance with the following conditions to win this fortune. Conditions: According to the Registrar-General's returns, the number of births and the number of deaths in London during the week ending December 12, 1896, were as follows-Births (males) 1,342, (females) 1,213; deaths, 1,539. A prize of 1,000l. is offered for a correct prediction of the numbers of male and female births and the number of deaths in London during the week ending December 11, 1897. All that competitors are asked to do is to fill in the following voucher, paste it on a sheet of paper, and


HALL v. Cox, App.

send it with a coupon cut from the front page of the Rocket in accordance with the instructions given below. Here is the voucher, and no other will serve for the competition: 'I say that the number of births and the number of deaths in London during the week ending December 11, 1897, as disclosed by the Registrar-General's returns, will be-Births, (male). . .; births, (female)...; deaths, .. Name, Address, Date,... Fill in the numbers of births (male and female) and deaths you predict in the spaces left blank for that purpose. Write your name, address, and the date in the spaces marked for these, and send your voucher to the office of the Rocket, 26 Southampton Street, Strand, London, W.C. N.B.-The envelopes containing the vouchers should be inscribed 1,000l.' on the top left-hand corner, and must reach the office of the Rocket not later than the first post on Friday, December 10. Competitors are not limited to one prediction, but each prediction must be written on one of the above vouchers cut from a current issue and a coupon cut from the front page of the Rocket. Should more than one correct prediction of both births (male and female) and deaths be received, the money will be divided."

[ocr errors]

The plaintiff duly fulfilled all the conditions of the offer, and, being unable to obtain payment of the money, brought the action to recover it.

At the trial of the action, before Lawrance, J., and a special jury at the Leeds Assizes in March, 1898, the jury found a verdict for the plaintiff for 1,000l., but the Judge held that the competition, being more a matter of chance than of skill, was a lottery, and upon that ground ordered judgment to be entered for the defendant.

The plaintiff appealed.

The original defendant died between the trial of the action and the hearing of the appeal, and his legal personal representatives were substituted as defendants.

Brooke Little, for the plaintiff.-The competition was not a lottery in the ordinary meaning of the word, which is given in Webster's Dictionary as the distribution of prizes by lot or chance, since

it contained an element of skill, and a lottery is a matter of pure chance containing no element of skill or judgment. Neither was the competition a lottery within the meaning of the statutes relating to lotteries-Caminada v. Hulton [1891] and Stoddart v. Sagar [1895].2 These two cases decided by Divisional Courts of the Queen's Bench Division were rightly decided and ought to be affirmed. In both these cases prizes were offered for correctly naming the winning horses of horse races which were shortly to be decided, and in both the Judges held that the competitions were not lotteries within the meaning of the statutes, since they involved an element of skill.

In the same way an element of skill is involved in this competition, since it would be impossible to succeed without a considerable study of the RegistrarGeneral's returns. No definition of the word "lottery" is to be found in the statutes, which generally appear to have been passed to deal with some particular form of gambling in vogue at the timesee 10 & 11 Will. 3. c. 17, the Lotteries Act, 1710 (9 Anne, c. 6), the Lotteries Act, 1721 (8 Geo. 1. c. 2), the Gaming Act, 1738 (12 Geo. 2. c. 28), the Gaming Act, 1802 (42 Geo. 3. c. 119), and the Lotteries Act, 1823 (4 Geo. 4. c. 60). Nor does this competition come within any provision contained in those Acts. In Morris v. Blackman [1864]3 the proprietor of an entertainment, to which the public were admitted on purchasing tickets, who in accordance with an advertised promise distributed presents amongst his audience according to his caprice, was held to have kept a place for the exercise of a lottery within the Gaming Act, 1802, but there the ratio decidendi was that the distribution was a matter of pure chance, and that every one of the audience thought he had a chance of winning a present. In Taylor v. Smetten [1883], where a person sold packets, each containing a pound of tea and a coupon entitling the purchaser to a prize, at 28 6d. a packet, the prizes varying in character and value, the deci

(1) 60 L. J. M.C. 116.

(2) 64 L. J. M.C. 234; [1895] 2 Q.B. 474. (3) 2 H. & C. 912.

(4) 52 L. J. M.C. 101; 11 Q.B. D. 207.

HALL v. Cox, App.

sion of Field, J., and Hawkins, J., that the vendor kept a lottery was founded on the consideration that the purchaser "exercised no choice: what he got he got without any option or action of his own will, but as the result of mere chance or accident." In Barclay v. Pearson [1893],5 again, in which a prize was offered for the discovery of a missing word, the competition was held to constitute a lottery on the ground that the distribution took place by chance. See also Sykes v. Beadon [1879], which, however, was disapproved in Smith v. Anderson [1880]. These cases shew that the statutes dealing with lotteries only apply to competitions which depend wholly on chance. The competition in the present case, therefore, does not come within the statutes, but is indistinguishable in principle from the competitions which in Caminada V. Hulton and Stoddart v. Sagar 2 were held to be lawful, and consequently judgment ought to have been entered for the plaintiff.

The defendants did not appear, and were not represented by counsel.

A. L. SMITH, L.J.-We have not had the advantage of hearing the point argued upon the side of the defendant, but I am clearly of opinion that this competition. did not constitute a lottery. The selection of the numbers for which, if correct, a prize is offered did not depend on mere chance. It depended largely upon chance, but not entirely, and the cases shew that to constitute a lottery it must be a matter depending entirely upon chance. Here an element of statistical enquiry entered into the competition. The offer of the prize was for a correct prediction of the numbers of the male and female births and of the deaths in London, as disclosed by the Registrar-General's returns, during a particular week in 1897. The newspaper which makes the offer itself sets out the number of these births and deaths according to the RegistrarGeneral's returns for the corresponding week of the year 1896. That is clearly intended as a starting-point from which a

(5) 62 L. J. Ch. 636; [1893] 2 Ch. D. 154. (6) 48 L J. Ch. 522; 11 Ch. D. 170. (7) 50 L. J. Ch. 39; 15 Ch. D. 247.

calculation is to be made. The enquiry depends on a study of the previous returns, the rate of the increase of the population, the death rate, and similar statistical investigations. It is, therefore, not wholly a matter of chance, but contains an element of statistical research. It seems to me that the competition is similar to the competitions in Caminada v. Hulton' and Stoddart v. Sagar,2 and that those cases were rightly decided. In Caminada v. Hulton Mr. Justice Day and Mr. Justice Lawrance held that the offer of a prize to any purchaser of a book who filled up a coupon it contained with the names of six, five, or four of the winning horses in six selected future races was not a proposal and scheme for the sale of chances in a lottery within section 41 of the Lottery Act, 1823, upon the ground, as I understand, that the skilled knowledge of the competitor for the prize was an ingredient in the matter. In Stoddart v. Sagar 2 Baron Pollock and Mr. Justice Wright came to a similar conclusion. In my judgment these decisions should be approved. I feel some difficulty in understanding in what way Mr. Justice Lawrance reconciled his decision in the present case with that given The by him in Caminada v. Hulton.1 result is that the appeal must be allowed.

RIGBY, L.J., and COLLINS, L.J., concurred.

Appeal allowed.

Solicitors-H. G. Campion & Co., agents for A. Muir Wilson, Sheffield, for plaintiff.

[Reported by Joseph Smith, Esq., Barrister-at-Law.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »