Many courts qualify the principle just stated by the further principle that if the terms of a document are not fairly legible, the acceptance of it does not involve assent to its terms unless they were actually known.71 This qualification is applicable where the terms are printed in too fine type,72 or are printed on the back of the document without anything in the form of the document or any reference on the face to call the acceptor's attention to the fact that there are provisions on the back,73 or where the light is too dim to permit reading,74 or where the receiver of the document is known to be unable to read.75
All these cases may be compared with decisions which hold that an illiterate person is bound by the terms of a document which he signs, even though in fact ignorant of them, unless he requires the document to be read to him.76 If acceptance of a document is the equivalent of assent, the same rule should apparently be applied to any case where the one receiving the document was aware or should have been aware that there were terms and conditions upon it, whether these were legible or not. It may be that the character of the documents here in question and the rapidity of action expected in the cases which have arisen involving them may justify a distinction. A railroad agent would probably not accede to a request by a shipper to read aloud the terms of a bill of lading.
68 Pac. 269, 54 L. R. A. 774, 86 Am. 8L Rep. 250. In Watkins v. Rymill, 10 0, B. D. 178, the plaintiff deposited • carriage with the defendant and re-aired a receipt in which were the words "subject to the conditions as eihibited upon the premise"." The plaintiff did not read the receipt, simply taking it and putting it in his pocket. It was held that the condition on the premises were part of the contract, and that it was error to leave to the jury the question whether the plaintiff had had reasonable notice of the conditions.
71Richardson v. Rowntree, 11894] A. C. 217; New York, etc., R. Co. v.
Sayles, 87 Fed. 444, 68 U. S. App. 18, 32 C. C. A. 485.
72Snider v. Adams Express Co., 63 Mo. 376, 383; Blossom v. Dodd, 43 N. Y. 264, 3 Am. Rep. 701; Verner v. Sweitser, 32 Pa. 203.
73 Henderson v. Stevenson, L. R.
2 H. L. 8c. 470; Railroad Co. v. Manufacturing Co., 16 Wall. 318, 21 L. Ed. 297; Newell v. Smith, 49 Vt. 255.
74 Blossom v. Dodd, 43 N. Y. 264,
3 Am. Rep. 701; Madan v. Sherard, 73 N. Y. 329, 29 Am. Rep. 153.
74 McKinney v. Boston & Maine R., 217 Mass. 274,101N. E. 446. 76 Supra, Sec. 36.
It is necessary that an agreement have consideration in order to form a contract; consequently it is not true that in every case acceptance of a paper purporting to contain an agreement will form a contract. Thus, if goods have been shipped, their acceptance by the carrier creates in the absence of express agreement at the time an implied obligation involving certain liability by the carrier. The delivery by the carrier to the snipper subsequently and not as part of the transaction of shipment, of a bill of lading or receipt containing terms which if binding would diminish the carrier's liability without giving the snipper any equivalent for such diminution, will not be binding.77 Even if assented to, there is no consideration for the shipper's agreement. So "upon a bailment of goods for work and labor upon them, the contract between the parties arises immediately upon the delivery of the goods to the bailee; and upon the completion of the work for which the bailment was made, it is the duty of the bailee to return the goods to the owner. He cannot prescribe the conditions under which he will perform that duty. Notice by the bailee, with the return of the goods, or with his bill for the work done, qualifying his liability for defective workmanship, are terms of his own dictation. His refusal to restore the goods to the owner except upon those terms would be wrongful. And although the owner should accept his goods with knowledge of the terms proposed, no contract would arise therefrom. The transaction would lack the consideration necessary to support a contract." 78