Same - Requisites Of Custom Or Usage

In order that a custom or usage may affect a contract, either by adding or explaining terms, it must meet certain requirements.

See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 16; Cent. Dig. §§ 21, 28; "Evidence," Cent. Dig. §§ 1945-1952.

37Brown v. Byrne, 3 El. & Bl. 703, 716. And see Atkinson v. Truesdell, 127 N. Y. 230, 27 N. E. 844; Myers v. Tibbals, 72 Cal. 27S, 13 Pac. 695; Susquehanna Fertilizer Co. v. White, 66 Md. 444, 7 Atl. 802, 59 Am. Rep. 186; Packard v. Van Schoick, 58 111. 79; Long v. Davidson, 101 N. C. 170, 7 S. E. 758; Evans v. Manufacturing Co., 118 Mo. 548, 24 S. W. 175; Callahan v. Stanley, 57 Cal. 476; Wood v. Allen, 111 Iowa, 97, 82 N. W. 451; Seymour v. Armstrong, 62 Kan. 720, 64 Pac. 612. See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 15; Cent. Dig. §§ 80-33; "Evidence," Cent. Dig. §§ 1945-1952.

38 Nordon Steam Co. v. Dempsey, 1 C. P. Div. 654. See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 15; Cent. Dig. §§ 30-33; "Evidence," Cent. Dig. §§ 1945-1952.

39 Smith v. Wilson, 3 Barn. & Adol. 728. And see Soutier v. Kellerman, 18 Mo. 509; McCullough v. Ashbridge, 155 Pa. 166, 26 Atl. 10; Hinton v. Locke, 5 Hill (N. Y.) 437. But see Sweeney v. Thomason, 9 Lea (Tenn.) 359, 42 Am. Rep. 676; Wilkinson v. Williamson, 76 Ala. 163; Barlow v. Lambert, 28 Ala. 704, 65 Am. Dec. 374; post, p. 498. See "Customs and Usages" Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 15; Cent. Dig. §§ 30 -33; "Evidence," Cent. Dig. §§ 1945-1952.

40Hill v. Evans, 31 L. J. Ch. 457; Dana v. Fielder, 12 N. Y. 40, 62 Am. Dec. 130; Fruin v. Railway Co., 89 Mo. 397, 14 S. W. 557; Gauch v. Insurance Co., 88 111. 251, 30 Am. Rep. 554; Jones v. Anderson, 82 Ala. 302, 2 South. 911; Welsh v. Huckestein, 152 Pa. 27, 25 Atl. 138; City of Elgin v. Joslyn, 136 111. 525, 26 N. E. 1090. See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 15; Cent. Dig. §§ 80-33; "Evidence," Cent. Dig. §§ 1945-1952.

In the first place, the usage must have been established at the time the contract was made. It need not have existed for any particular length of time, but it must have been recognized as an existing rule, not only up to and at the date of the contract, but for a sufficient time before the contract to have become generally known.41 This rule that the usage must have been established includes several other rules which have sometimes been stated separately, namely, that it must have been uniform and certain,42 continued,43 and peaceable and acquiesced in.44

Another rule which is included in this is that a usage must be general. If it is not so, it cannot be regarded as obligatory on the parties unless it is expressly shown that they knew of it, and contracted with reference to it.45 A particular bank, for instance, could not alone, by adopting a rule governing its own business, thereby establish a usage which would be obligatory on all persons dealing with it.46 It might be established, however, by all the banks in a certain city, or all the tradesmen in a particular line of business. Though confined to a single city, it would be sufficient general to be obligatory on all persons in that city.47 Even here, however, it would scarcely be binding on persons living at a distance, unless it were shown affirmatively that they knew of it.48

41 Adams v. Otterback, 15 How. 539, 14 L. Ed. 805; Wilson v. Bauman, 80 111. 493; Packard v. Van Schoick, 58 111. 79; Ulmer v. Farnsworth, 80 Me. 500, 15 Atl. 65; Hall v. Storrs, 7 Wis. 253; Ambler v. Phillips, 132 Pa. 167, 19 Atl. 71; Thompson v. Hamilton, 12 Pick. (Mass.) 425, 23 Am. Dec. 619; Smith v. Wright, 1 Caines (N. Y.) 43, 2 Am. Dec. 162; Cooper v. Berry, 21 Ga. 526, 6 Am. Dec. 468; Buford v. Tucker, 44 Ala. 89. See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 4; Cent. Dig. § 3.

42 Foley v. Mason, 6 Md. 37; Hibbard v. Peek, 75 Wis. 619, 44 N. W. 641; Vos v. Robinson, 9 Johns. (N. Y.) 192; Oelricks v. Ford, 23 How. 49, 16 L. Ed. 534; Minis v. Nelson (C. C.) 43 Fed. 777; Illinois Masons' Benevolent Soc. v. Baldwin, 86 111. 479; Smith v. Hess, 83 Iowa, 238, 48 N. W. 1030; Berkshire Woolen Co. v. Proctor, 7 Cush. (Mass.) 417; The Harbinger (D. C.) 50 Fed. 941; Desha v. Holland, 12 Ala. 513, 46 Am. Dec. 261; Wallace v. Morgan, 23 Ind. 359. See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 6; Cent. Dig. § 5.

48 Johnson v. Stoddard, 100 Mass. 306; Michigan Cent. R. Co. v. Coleman, 28 Mich. 440; Brent v. Cook, 12 B. Mon. (Ky.) 267; Walker v. Barron, 6 Minn. 508 (Gil. 353). See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 4; Cent. Dig. § 8.

44 Dixon v. Dunham, 14 111. 324; Strong v. Railroad Co., 15 Mich. 206, 93 Am. Dec. 184; McMasters v. Railroad Co., 69 Pa. 374, 8 Am. Rep. 264. See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 2; Cent. Dig. §§ 3-6.

45 Patterson v. Crowther, 70 Md. 124, 16 Atl. 531; Miller v. Moore, 83 Ga. 684, 10 S. E. 360, 6 L. R. A. 374, 20 Am. St. Rep. 329; Lamb v. Henderson, 63 Mich. 302, 29 N. W. 732. See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 5; Cent. Dig. § 4.

46 Adams v. Otterback, 15 How. 539, 14 L. Ed. 805. See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 5; Cent. Dig. § 4.

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It is a general rule that the usage must have been known to the parties;49 but, if a usage is established and is general, it is presumed to have been known to them, and is obligatory without affirmative proof of knowledge, and even in case of ignorance.50 If it is not a general usage, then it must be affirmatively shown that the parties had knowledge of the usage, and contracted with reference to it.51 In order that a usage may be binding, it must have been actually or presumptively known to both of the parties, and not merely to the party who is sought to be charged by it. Want of knowledge of a local usage on the part of one of them shows that it could not have entered into the contract.52

It is also essential that a usage shall be consistent with rules of law, for "a universal usage cannot be set up against the general law." 53 If it is inconsistent with any rule of the common law,54 or with any statute,55 or is contrary to public policy,56 it cannot be recognized. A usage, however, is not contrary to rules of law in this sense, merely because it makes the law applicable to the particular contract different from what it would be if the usage were not imported into the contract. This is generally the object and the natural effect of proving a usage.

47 Renner v. Bank, 9 Wheat. 587, 6 L. Ed. 166; Mills v. Bank, 11 Wheat. 431, 6 L. Ed. 512. See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 5; Cent. Dig. § 4

48 German American Ins. Co. v. Commercial Fire Ins. Co., 95 Ala. 469, 11 South. 117, 16 L. R. A. 291; Chateaugay Ore & Iron Co. v. Blake, 144 U. S. 476, 12 Sup. Ct. 731, 36 L. Ed. 510; Simon v. Johnson, 101 Ala. 368, 13 South. 491. See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 5; Cent. Dig. § 4.

49 Bliven v. Screw Co., 23 How. 420, 16 L. Ed. 510; Irwin v. Williar, 110 U. S. 499, 4 Sup. Ct 160, 28 L. Ed. 225; Dawson v. Kittle, 4 Hill (N. Y.) 107; Martin v. Hall, 26 Mo. 386; Martin v. Maynard, 16 N. H. 165; Murray v. Brooks, 41 Iowa, 45; Sugart v. Mays, 54 Ga. 554; Janney v. Boyd, 30 Minn. 319, 15 N. W. 308; Scott v. Whitney, 41 Wis. 504; Dodge v. Favor, 15 Gray (Mass.) 82; Sawtelle v. Drew, 122 Mass. 228; Marshall v. Perry, 67 Me. 78. See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 12; Cent. Dig. §§ 23, 24.

50 Walls v. Bailey, 49 N. T. 464, 10 Am. Rep. 407; Bailey v. Bensley, 87 111. 556; Blake v. Stump, 73 Md. 160, 20 Atl. 788, 10 L. R. A. 103; Carter v. Coal Co., 77 Pa. 286; Ford v. Tirrell, 9 Gray (Mass.) 401, 69 Am. Dec. 297; Howard v. Walker, 92 Tenn. 452, 21 S. W. 897; Austrian v. Springer, 94 Mich. 343, 54 N. W. 50, 34 Am. St. Rep. 350; Hostetter v. Park, 137 U. S. 30, 11 Sup. Ct 1, 34 L. Ed. 568. See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 12; Cent. Dig. §§ 23, 24.

51 Chateaugay Ore & Iron Co. v. Blake, 144 U. S. 476, 12 Sup. Ct. 731, 36 L. Ed. 510; Sleght v. Hartshorne, 2 Johns. (N. Y.) 532; Allen v. Bank, 120 U. S. 20, 7 Sup. Ct 460, 30 L. Ed. 573; Pennell v. Transportation Co., 94 Mich. 247, 53 N. W. 1049; Brunnell v. Sawmill Co., 86 Wis. 587, 57 N. W. 364. See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 12; Cent. Dig. §§ 23, 2k.

52 Nonotuck Silk Co. v. Fair, 112 Mass. 354; Chateaugay Ore & Iron Co. v. Blake, 144 U. S. 476, 12 Sup. Ct 731, 36 L. Ed. 510. See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 12; Cent. Dig. §§ 23, 24.

A usage cannot be set up to affect a contract if it is unreasonable or oppressive.67 A usage of agents, for instance, in collecting drafts for absent parties, to surrender them to the drawees at maturity, and, upon mere confidence in the good credit of the drawees, to take in exchange their checks upon banks, was held ineffectual because unreasonable.58

Finally, the usage must not be inconsistent with the terms of the contract, for it is optional with the parties to exclude the usage if they think fit, and to frame their contract so as to be repugnant to is operation.59

58 Meyer v. Dremer, 11 C. B. (N. S.) 646. See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 8; Cent. Dig. §§ 8-10.

54 First Nat. Bank v. Taliaferro, 72 Md. 164, 19 Atl. 364; Dickinson v. Gay, 7 Allen (Mass.) 29, 83 Am. Dee. 656; Hedden v. Roberts, 134 Mass. 38, 45 Am. Rep. 276; Tucker v. Smith, 68 Tex. 473, 3 S. W. 671; Inglebright v. Hammond, 19 Ohio, 337, 53 Am. Dec. 430; Globe Milling Co. v. Elevator Co., 44 Minn. 153, 46 N. W. 306; Marshall v. Perry, 67 Me. 78. See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 8; Cent. Dig. §§ 8-10.

55 Colgate v. Pennsylvania Co., 102 N. Y. 120, 6 N. E. 114; Many v. Iron Co., 9 Paige (N. Y.) 188; Cayzer v. Taylor, 10 Gray (Mass.) 274, 69 Am. Dec. 317; Cutter v. Howe, 122 Mass. 541; Mansfield v. Inhabitants, 15 Gray (Mass.) 149; Godcharles v. Wigeman, 113 Pa. 431, 6 Atl. 354; McCrary v. McFarland, 93 Ind. 466. Proof of usage cannot give a different meaning to terms than that given by statute. Green v. Moffett, 22 Mo. 529; Rogers v. Allen, 47 N. H. 529. Nor can proof of usage change the statutory duties of an officer. Scrib-ner v. Town of Hollis, 48 N. H. 30; Delaplane v. Crenshaw, 15 Grat. (Va.) 457; Frazier v. Warfield, 13 Md. 279. Nor can violation of usury laws be justified by usage. Gore v. Lewis, 109 N. C. 539, 13 S. E. 909; Dunham v. Gould, 16 Johns. (N. Y.) 367, 8 Am. Dec. 323; Greene v. Tyler, 39 Pa. 361. See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 8; Cent. Dig. §§ 8-10.

56 Raisin v. Clark, 41 Md. 158, 20 Am. Rep. 66. See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 8; Cent. Dig. §§ 8-10.

57 Seccomb v. Insurance Co., 10 Allen (Mass.) 305; Blackburn v. Mason, 4 Reports, 297, 68 Law T. 510; Minis v. Nelson (C. C.) 43 Fed. 777; Central R. Co. v. Anderson, 58 Ga. 393; Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Sanderson, 94 Pa. 302, 39 Am. Rep. 785; Boardman v. Spooner, 13 Allen (Mass.) 353, 90 Am. Dec. 196; Strong v. Railroad Co., 15 Mich. 206, 93 Am. Dec. 184; Anderson v. Whitaker, 97 Ala. 690, 11 South. 919; Nolte v. Hill, 36 Ohio St. 186; Rosen-stock v. Tormey, 32 Md. 169, 3 Am. Rep. 125; Haskins v. Warren, 115 Mass. 514; Merchants' Ins. Co. v. Prince, 50 Minn. 53, 52 N. W. 131, 36 Am. St Rep. 626. See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 7; Cent. Dig. § 7.

58 Whitney v. Esson, 99 Mass. 308, 96 Am. Dec. 762. See "Customs and Usages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 7; Cent. Dig. § 7.