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provisions of the statute relating thereto may permit of a cancellation upon less than the ten days' notice required by the standard form.
Your remaining questions refer to the "binding slips" used by fire insurance companies, by means of which the agent is authorized to cover property with insurance from the moment of application until the company accepts the risk and issues a policy, or rejects the risk and notifies the applicant of its rejection. You ask in varying forms whether such temporary insurance may be terminated by less than ten days' notice to the applicant.
"If a binder is issued or given by an authorized company or agent, which binder stipulates that it may be cancelled or revoked by the party issuing or granting the same, at a less time than the 'ten days' fixed by law, would such act constitute a violation of law, or, if not an actual violation, would the company have a legal right to abrogate or abridge the legal rights which are secured to the insured by the enactment or conditions of the 'standard' form of policy?
"Could a binder as described as above be considered as legal, provided the ten days' allowance be waived by the agreement of both parties, assurer and assured?'
The universal custom of covering property while the insurance company is determining whether to issue a policy or not is convenient, and, indeed, a practical necessity in business, but no law compels the company to make this preliminary agreement, and if it be made, no law prescribes what its terms must be. It is not even required to be in writing. Since there is no legal obligation upon the company to make temporary insurance even for a moment, the company may "bind" such insurance for as long or as short a time as the parties may agree upon. You have, therefore, no duty to see to the form of these binding slips.
I answer your questions, specifically, as follows: The act of giving a binding slip, providing that the temporary contract evidenced by it may be terminated by notice within less than ten days, is not a violation of law. The law, as I have stated above, does not forbid the making of terms inconsistent with those of the standard policy.
I next consider the following question: "Does the giving of a parole agreement, or the issuance of a binder, constitute, theoretically at least, a contract, to be governed by the terms and agreements as fixed by the standard form of policy' herein referred to?"
If the binding slip does not provide for its own termination, the question whether the insurance contract evidenced by it may be
cancelled on reasonable notice, or whether, since the applicant and the company have made no inconsistent agreements, his property is insured pending the issuance of the policy according to the terms of the standard form, is one of great interest, upon which the decisions are not in accord. See Lipman v. Niagara Fire Ins. Co., 121 N. Y. 454; Karelsen v. Sun Fire Office, 122 N. Y. 545; Hicks v. British Amer. Ass. Co., 162 N. Y. 284; Campbell v. Amer. Fire Ins. Co., 73 Wis. 100; Baile v. St. Joseph F. & M. Ins. Co., 73 Mo. 371; Neb., etc., Ins. Co. v. Seivers, 27 Neb. 541. This interesting question, however, in nowise concerns your official duty.
Lastly: "Can a parole agreement or binder which by its terms fixes the time at which it is to remain in force at a longer term than ten days be cancelled by the company without giving the insured the ten days' notice required by the standard form'?"
The question whether a binding slip purporting to cover for thirty days may be cancelled upon notice, and if so, upon what notice, is also one which concerns only the parties to the contract. Very truly yours,
HERBERT PARKER, Attorney-General.
Person committed to Workhouse - Labor. The word "commitment," as used in R. L., c. 30, § 21, providing that "every person who has been committed to a workhouse shall, if able to work, be kept diligently employed in labor during the term of his commitment," is to be broadly interpreted, and such provision is applicable not only to persons committed to a workhouse by a court but also to persons placed therein subject to the care and oversight of overseers of the poor, and without a technical commitment.
Nov. 21, 1904.
JOHN D. WELLS, Esq., Clerk, State Board of Charity. DEAR SIR: You request the opinion of the Attorney-General as to whether the words "every person who has been committed to a workhouse," in section 21 of chapter 30 of the Revised Laws, apply to all of the several classes of "persons" mentioned in section 1 of the same chapter.
R. L., c. 30, § 1, provides:
A city or town may erect or provide a workhouse or almshouse for the employment and support of indigent persons maintained by or receiving alms from it; of persons who, being able to work and not having estate or means otherwise to maintain themselves, refuse or neglect to work; of persons who live a dissolute, vagrant life and exercise no ordinary calling or lawful business; of persons who spend their time
and property in public houses to the neglect of their proper business or who, by otherwise misspending their earnings, are likely to become chargeable to the city or town; and of other persons sent thereto under any provisions of law.
Section 21 provides :
Every person who has been committed to a workhouse shall, if able to work, be kept diligently employed in labor during the term of his commitment. If he is idle and does not perform such reasonable task as is assigned, or if he is stubborn and disorderly, he shall be punished according to the orders and regulations established by the directors.
The inmates of workhouses are of two classes: first, those persons who are committed thereto by order of court (R. L., c. 208, § 30; c. 212, §§ 39, 46, 54, 55, 59); second, those who are supported therein as paupers under the care of overseers of the poor, but who have not been committed by an order of court (R. L., c. 81, § 2). Many of the persons enumerated in R. L., c. 30, § 1, above quoted, are included within the second class. It therefore becomes important to determine whether the words "commitment" and "committed," in R. L., c. 30, § 21, are to be interpreted narrowly, as meaning commitment by order of court, for if they are so to be interpreted it follows that certain persons enumerated in R. L., c. 30, § 1, namely, those within the second class above indicated, are exempt from the provisions of section 21.
I am of opinion, however, that the words are not to be so narrowly interpreted. "Commitment" and "committed" do not necessarily have technical meanings. See Cummington v. Wareham, 9 Cush. 585; Commonwealth v. Barker, 133 Mass. 399, and statutes therein construed. In defining them reference may be had to the earlier statutes, for words in an act are to be given the same meaning which they had in earlier acts in pari materia, in the absence of anything to show a contrary intent. Reiche v. Smythe, 13 Wall. 162; Greenleaf v. Goodrich, 101 U. S. 281, semble.
In the section of the original workhouse statute, in which the provisions of R. L., c. 30, § 21, appear, the words "committed" and "commitment" were not used in a technical sense, but were applied to the sending of persons to the workhouse by overseers of the poor.
Province Laws, 1743-44, c. 12, § 11, provided :
That no town shall be at charge for the support or relief of any person committed to said house, who was not sent thither by the overseers belonging to such town; nor any person orderly committed to it shall
be discharged from it but by the overseers by whom he was committed, or by the overseers, at a general meeting, or otherwise by the justices of the court of general sessions of the peace, in the same county, upon application to them made for that purpose; and every person so committed, if fit and able to work, shall be held and kept stric[k]tly and diligently [i] [e]mployed in labour during his or her abode there; and in case they be idle, and shall not duly perform such task or stint as shall be reasonably assign'd them, or shall be stubborn and disorderly, shall be punish [e]d according to the orders that shall be made for the ruling, governing, and punishing of the persons there to be committed, not repugnant to the laws of this province
The same statute provided that the overseers in any town "be and they are hereby directed and empowered to commit to such house . . . any person or persons . . . that hereafter in this act are declared liable to be sent thither." The persons so declared liable to be sent to the workhouse were enumerated in nearly the same terms as are used in R. L., c. 30, § 1. In Acts of 1788, c. 30, these provisions remained practically the same in form and substance. The revision of the laws in 1836 (R. S., c. 16) changed the form of the statute, and the form at that time adopted has, with minor changes, been retained (G. S., c. 22; P. S., c. 33), though many new provisions relative to commitments to workhouses for misdemeanors have been made.
There is, however, nothing which to my mind sufficiently strongly indicates any other intent as to the meaning of "committed" and "commitment" to rebut the inference from the way in which the words were used in the earlier statutes. The disappearance of the provision authorizing overseers to commit was doubtless due to the fact that it seemed to be unnecessary in view of the provision which was enacted in 1788 and now appears in R. L., c. 81, § 2, giving overseers the power to see that poor and indigent persons are suitably relieved, supported or employed either in the workhouse or almshouse, or in such other manner as the city or town directs, or otherwise at the discretion of said overseers." The omission of the word " So ("thus" in St. 1788) before "committed in St. 1743-44, was required by the change in the form of the statute and by the intention to include within the scope of the provision persons committed under authority of later acts by order of court; but there was nothing in it tending to limit the application of the provision to such persons. The use of the expression "within the time for which he was committed," in the section relating to discharges, and the expression "during the term of his commitment," in the section to be construed, is not inconsistent with a situation where some of the persons referred
to are committed for definite, some for indefinite, periods; and the addition of the words "or received," in Gen. St., c. 22, § 17, and later revisions, to the provision requiring the master of each workhouse to keep a register" of the names of the persons committed," was hardly sufficient to impress upon the words "committed" and "commitment," wherever they occur, a technical meaning which they certainly did not have in the early statutes dealing with the same subject.
It seems, therefore, that these words should be broadly interpreted, and consequently that the requirement of diligent employment in labor, in section 21, applies to all persons enumerated in section 1. This conclusion is further supported by the provision of section 16, that cities and towns may provide implements, etc., "for the employment of inmates" of workhouses, and by the provision of section 1, above quoted, that "a city or town may erect or provide a workhouse . . . for the employment . . . of indigent persons.'
Very truly yours,
Great Ponds Sources of Water Supply — Rules and Regulations of State Board of Health Commissioners of Fisheries and Game ·Duty to stock with Food Fish.
HERBERT PARKER, Attorney-General.
Rules and regulations established by the State Board of Health under the provisions of R. L., c. 75, § 113, "to prevent the pollution and to secure the sanitary protection of all such waters as are used as sources of water supply," are police regulations, and, in the case of a great pond so used, will limit and control the right of the public to the use thereof for boating, fishing or other like purposes, so far as such use by the public is inconsistent with the use of such pond as a source of water supply.
Where rules and regulations established by the State Board of Health under the provisions of R. L., c. 75, § 113, relating to a great pond, used as a source of water supply, forbid to the public fishing, boating or bathing therein or taking ice therefrom, the provisions of R. L., c. 91, § 19, directing the Commissioners of Fisheries and Game, upon petition duly made as prescribed, to cause the waters of any great pond to be stocked with food fish, and to make reasonable regulations relative to the fishing therein, is not applicable, and such commissioners are not required to act thereunder.
Nov. 25, 1904. Hon. JOSEPH W. COLLINS, Chairman, Commissioners of Fisheries and Game.
DEAR SIR: - You have required my opinion upon the effect which certain rules and regulations made by the State Board of Health under R. L., c. 75, § 113, may have upon the duty of the