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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/2154

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1944
HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT

to the consumer; and if either the consumer or the company are dissatisfied as to the accuracy of a meter, they may require it to be sent to a Government inspector to be tested. If it be found to be in order, the party at whose request the test was made must pay the cost.

The register of the meter is primâ facie evidence of the quantity of gas consumed, but in case of dispute, the difference may be determined, upon application of either party, by two justices (or the stipendiary magistrate, in a town), whose decision is final.

Any officer appointed by the company may, at all reasonable times, enter the premises to inspect the meters, fittings, etc., and to ascertain the quantity of gas consumed. Any person who hinders such officer from entering, etc., is liable to a penalty not exceeding £5.

Penalties payable under Certain Circumstances.—Any person who fraudulently, wilfully or by culpable negligence injures or suffers to be injured any pipes, meter or fittings belonging to the company, or alters the index to any meter or prevents it from duly registering the quantity of gas supplied, or fraudulently abstracts or consumes the company's gas will (without prejudice to any other rights and remedies for the protection of the company), be liable to a penalty not exceeding £5, and the company may, in addition, recover the amount of any damage sustained by them. And, in cases where the offence has been committed wilfully or fraudulently, the supply may be cut off until the matter complained of is remedied. The existence of artificial means for causing such alteration of the meter, etc., when the meter is under the custody and control of the consumer, will be primâ facie evidence that such alteration, etc., has been fraudulently caused by him.

Any person who lays, or causes to be laid, any pipe to communicate with a pipe belonging to a gas company, without their consent, or fraudulently injures any meter, or improperly uses or burns any gas supplied, or supplies any other person with any part of the gas supplied, will be liable to pay a penalty of £5, and also the sum of 40's. for every day during which the offence continues.

Recovery of Charges in Arrear. Any sum due for gas supplied, or for the hire or fixing of a meter, and any expense lawfully incurred by the company in cutting off the supply, if in arrear, may be recovered either in an action, or in the same way as a penalty, by summary process, before two justices in the country, or the stipendiary magistrate in a town.

Incoming Tenant.—Where the occupier of premises leaves without paying what is due for gas supplied or for the rent of a meter, an incoming tenant cannot be required by the company to pay such arrears, unless he has undertaken with the outgoing tenant to do so.

HIRE-PURCHASE AGREEMENTS

Goods obtained on the hire-purchase system remain the property of the person who supplied them until payment of the final instalment of the sum agreed upon; consequently, until the final instalment has been paid, the hirer cannot treat the goods as his own property, nor part with the possession of them, nor do anything contrary to the terms of the hire-purchase agreement, and if he fraudulently disposes of them he will be criminally liable. In the absence of any provision to the contrary, failure to pay an instalment entitles the person who supplied the goods to retake possession of them, and sue for any instalments then overdue.

Goods thus obtained are liable to be distrained upon for rent by the landlord, but cannot be seized by an execution creditor of the hirer. If the agreement is, in substance, a binding contract to purchase, although the price is payable by instalments expressed to be for hire, a person buying the goods from the hirer, in good faith and without notice of the agreement, will acquire a good title to them. Where, however, the agreement is, in fact,