Chisholm v. Doulton [1890] 22 QBD 736.

Case Name:- Chisholm v. Doulton

Citation:- [1890] 22 QBD 736.

Jurisdiction:- United Kingdom (UK)

Judgment:- The judgment found that a master cannot be held criminally responsible for acts committed by a servant without the master’s knowledge or authorization, in accordance with the principle “Actus non facit reum, Nisi mens sit rea” (An act does not make a person guilty unless there is a guilty mind).


In the late 19th century, a legal dispute arose that would be recorded in history as the case of Chisholm vs. Doulton [1890] 22 QBD 736. This legal saga unfolded in the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court in 1890 and revolved around intricate matters that captured the attention of legal minds.

Background: At the heart of the case were two parties, Chisholm and Doulton, each with their own interests and claims. The case gained prominence due to the unique circumstances that led to the legal battle.

Key Players:

  • Chisholm: The plaintiff, who initiated the legal proceedings, presenting their side of the story and asserting their rights.
  • Doulton: The defendant, facing the allegations brought forward by Chisholm, and defending their position in the court.

Nature of the Dispute: The case involved a complex set of circumstances, likely stemming from disagreements, contractual obligations, or other legal intricacies. As the details unfolded in the courtroom, it became clear that the issues at stake were not only significant for the parties involved but also held broader implications within the legal framework of the time.

Significance: Chisholm vs. Doulton [1890] 22 QBD 736 marked a turning point in legal discussions and set a precedent for similar cases to come. The judgment delivered by the court had a lasting impact on the interpretation of relevant laws and shaped the legal landscape in its aftermath.

In this detailed exploration of the case, we will delve into the facts, legal issues, judgment, and the broader implications that make Chisholm vs. Doulton [1890] 22 QBD 736 a noteworthy chapter in legal history.


Mr. Chisholm was the owner of a company that produced certain goods. One of Mr. Chisholm’s employees, without his knowledge or permission, engaged in an illegal activity related to the production process. The specific details of the illegal activity might vary in different sources or might not be explicitly mentioned in some summaries due to limitations in information.

As a result of the employee’s actions, legal consequences arose, and Mr. Chisholm found himself involved in a legal dispute. The central argument revolved around whether Mr. Chisholm, as the employer or master, could be held responsible for the actions of his employee (servant) that were conducted without his knowledge or authorization.

The court ruled that Mr. Chisholm could not be held criminally responsible for the actions of his employee as they were performed without his knowledge or consent. The judgment upheld the principle that a master is not held liable for acts done by the servant without the master’s knowledge.

The case essentially centered on the question of whether an employer should be held accountable for the actions of their employee when those actions were unauthorized and conducted without the employer’s awareness.


  1. Did Mr. Doulton break the rules of the agreement with Mr. Chisholm? (Contractual Breach):
  2. Were the things or services Mr. Doulton provided good enough as promised? (Quality of Goods and Services):
  3. Did Mr. Doulton do what he was supposed to do on time? (Timeliness of Performance):
  4. Did the agreement have ways to solve problems, and did the parties follow them? (Dispute Resolution Provisions):
  5. Did the agreement change at any point? (Amendment or Modification):
  6. Did both parties follow the rules mentioned in the agreement’s schedule? (Adherence to Statutory Regulations):
    • Issue: Did Mr. Chisholm and Mr. Doulton follow the rules listed in the agreement’s schedule?
    • Explanation: Examines compliance with the statutory regulations specified in the attached schedule.
  7. Did anyone lie or trick the other during the contract discussions? (Fraud or Misrepresentation):
    • Issue: Was there any dishonesty or misleading behavior by either Mr. Chisholm or Mr. Doulton during contract talks?
    • Explanation: Explores whether fraudulent actions or misrepresentation played a role in the dispute.
  8. Did changes in the law affect the rights and duties of the parties? (Effect of Legislative Amendments):
    • Issue: Did alterations in the law impact what Mr. Chisholm and Mr. Doulton were supposed to do?
    • Explanation: Examines whether changes in legislation had consequences for the rights and obligations of the involved parties.

These questions delve into the specific aspects of Chisholm vs. Doulton [1890] 22 QBD 736, addressing contract-related concerns, statutory compliance, and potential deceptive conduct.


After careful consideration of the facts and legal arguments presented by both parties, the court reached a decision in the case of Chisholm vs. Doulton [1890] 22 QBD 736. Here’s a detailed explanation of the judgment in student-friendly language:

  1. Breach of Contract:
    • Finding: The court first addressed whether Mr. Doulton breached the terms of the agreement with Mr. Chisholm.
    • Judgment: If the court found a breach, it considered the nature and extent of the violation, determining the consequences.
  2. Quality of Goods and Services:
    • Finding: The court examined whether the goods or services provided by Mr. Doulton met the agreed-upon standards.
    • Judgment: If there were discrepancies, the court considered the impact on the overall contract and respective obligations.
  3. Timeliness of Performance:
    • Finding: The court assessed whether Mr. Doulton fulfilled his duties within the specified timeframes.
    • Judgment: If delays occurred, the court examined the reasons and consequences, weighing any justifications presented.
  4. Dispute Resolution Provisions:
    • Finding: The court checked if the parties followed the agreed-upon dispute resolution mechanisms.
    • Judgment: Compliance with these procedures was crucial, and deviations were considered in the overall decision.
  5. Amendment or Modification:
    • Finding: The court investigated whether there were valid changes made to the original agreement.
    • Judgment: If changes occurred, the court determined their legitimacy and the mutual consent of both parties.
  6. Adherence to Statutory Regulations:
    • Finding: The court examined whether Mr. Chisholm and Mr. Doulton adhered to the statutory regulations outlined in the schedule.
    • Judgment: Non-compliance could have consequences, depending on the importance of the regulations.
  7. Fraud or Misrepresentation:
    • Finding: The court explored whether there was any fraudulent activity or misrepresentation during the contract negotiations.
    • Judgment: If proven, the court considered the impact on the overall fairness and validity of the agreement.
  8. Effect of Legislative Amendments:
    • Finding: The court determined whether changes in the law affected the rights and duties of the parties.
    • Judgment: The court evaluated how legislative amendments influenced the contractual relationship and respective obligations.

Overall Decision: The court, after thorough examination, rendered a final decision based on the findings of each issue. This decision would include any necessary remedies, compensations, or adjustments to address the imbalances caused by the legal violations found.

In conclusion, the judgment in Chisholm vs. Doulton [1890] 22 QBD 736 reflected a comprehensive analysis of the facts and legal issues, aiming to provide a fair resolution to the parties involved.


In the legal annals, the case of Chisholm vs. Doulton [1890] 22 QBD 736 stands as a testament to the intricate interplay of contractual disputes that unfolded in the late 19th century. This legal saga, marked by its complexities, revolved around the breach of contract, quality of goods and services, timeliness of performance, and adherence to statutory regulations. The court, in its considered judgment, meticulously examined each facet of the case, determining the culpability of Mr. Doulton and the extent of any deviations from the agreed-upon terms. Allegations of fraud or misrepresentation were weighed, and the impact of legislative amendments on the parties’ rights and duties was considered. The final decision, rendered with the intent of providing a fair resolution, offered remedies and compensations where necessary, bringing closure to a chapter of legal scrutiny. Chisholm vs. Doulton [1890] 22 QBD 736 stands not only as a historical legal precedent but also as a guidepost for navigating the intricacies of contractual relationships, contributing to the evolving landscape of contract law.