Settlement for Five of the Victims
|At the Newcastle County Court on June 10th 1924. Judge Ruegg, K.C. approved the settlements made in the cases of 5 of the victims. The awards made in the 5 cases amounted to £3,650 and the total claims, as Mr. B. Robertson, from the office of Messrs Hollingshead and Moody, who appeared for the applicants, told his Honour, came to £8,000.
There had been an inquest and the jury found there was no negligence attached to the colliery company or their servants, in proceedings under the Coal Mines Act 1911 before the Newcastle County Branch. The manager and the agent of the colliery had also been relieved from blame. But an appeal to the Divisional Court had resulted in the case being sent back to the magistrates with directions to convict. Not withstanding the verdict of the Coroner's jury and the result of the Police Court proceedings, he contended that there was a claim at Common Law and it was because of that view that the test action was began in the High Court under the Common Law.
Agent and Manager Fined
Sir William Goodwin, presided on Monday 15th June 1924 at the Newcastle County Police Court, by the order of the Divisional Court, to convict in respect to the summonses against Mr. T. Roberts, manager of the mine and Mr. O. Bromley, agent to the colliery, for offences alleged in connection with the disaster at the Apedale Footrail on April 25th 1923. The summonses were for alleged breach of the Coal Mines Act 1911, and were heard on October 24th 1923 and dismissed.
In each summons it was alleged that,
"In a working that had approached within 40 yards of a place containing or likely to contain an accumulation of water or other liquid matter, or of disused workings, the defendant unlawfully did fail constantly to keep extending to a sufficient distance, not being less that 5 yards in advance, at least one bore hole near the centre of the working, and sufficient flank holes at each side at intervals of not more than 5 yards, as required by Section 68 of the Coal Mines Act.
The magistrates retired to consider the situation and on their return the chairman said.
No option is left to us but to do as we have done, to convict in each of these cases. We are of the opinion in reading this order from the High court that we have to look at the matter now, as if we had convicted in the first instance. Therefore taking that into consideration, we shall impose in each case the maximum fine of £20.
The chairman said that throughout the whole of the hearing, we have had but only one idea and that was to apply ourselves to the exact meaning of Section 68 of the Coal Mines Act. You know what our opinion was, that has been reversed. We still think that section is not as precisely drafted as it should be, and we are glad to know that the matter is having every consideration, and that section is likely to be re-drafted.