Watteau v. Fenwick
High Court of England and Wales
1 Queen’s Bench 346 (1892)
Humble transferred his tavern to some brewers (defendants), but stayed on to manage the tavern after the transfer. Humble’s name remained painted on the tavern and the tavern license continued in his name. The transfer agreement gave most of the purchasing authority to the brewers. Humble was authorized to purchase ales and mineral water exclusively for the tavern. However, for several years after the transfer, Humble bought cigars, Bovril, a salty meat extract, and other supplies on credit to be sold at the tavern. The supplier (plaintiff) sued the brewers to collect for the price of the supplies Humble purchased. At trial, the brewers argued that since they limited Humble’s purchasing power and did not hold him out as their agent, Humble lacked authority to purchase the forbidden supplies and they should not be liable to pay for them. The trial court held that the brewers were liable to pay for the cigars and Bovril because Humble was acting as tavern manager when he purchased those items, which were typically sold in taverns.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Wills, J.)