Reward - Encyclopedia

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REWARD, recompense, a gift or payment in return for services rendered. "Reward" and "regard" are forms of the same word. Old French, from which both words came into English, also had rewarder and rewarder (the latter form only surviving in modern French), from re-, back, in return, and warder, garder, to watch, protect - ultimately a Teutonic word, from the base war-, to defend; cf. "ward" and "guard," which are thus also doublets. In early use in English, "reward" and "regard" were interchangeable in meaning; thus in Piers Plowman, xi. 129, "Reson rod forth and tok reward of no man," cf. "The towne doth receave ... an annuall regard for the same" (a 16th-century reference quoted by the New English Dictionary from R. Willis and J. W. Clark, Archit. Hist. of Univ. of Cambridge, 1886). In use the words are now distinct, "regard" being restricted to such meanings as attention, respect, esteem, consideration.

In English law the offering of rewards presents two distinct aspects: (1) with reference to the nature of the information or act for the giving or doing whereof the reward is offered; (2) with reference to the nature of the relation created between the person offering and the person claiming the reward.

1. Courts of assize and quarter sessions are empowered to order the payment of rewards to persons who have been active in or towards the apprehension of persons charged with certain specified crimes against person and property (Criminal Law, 1826, ss. 28, 29; Criminal Justice Administration Act 1851, ss. 7, 8). The rewards are payable according to a scale fixed by the home secretary. In the case of courts of quarter sessions the maximum is L5. Courts of assize may award a larger sum where extraordinary courage and diligence have been shown towards the apprehension. The sums awarded are paid out of the rate or fund chargeable with the costs of assizes and sessions. It is illegal to advertise for the recovery of stolen property (including dogs) on terms of not asking questions (Larceny Act 1861, s. 102; Larceny Advertisements Acts 1870, s. 3). The advertiser and the newspaper which publishes it incur a penalty of X50. (See Mirams v. Our Dogs Publishing Co., 1901, 2 K.B. 564.) It is a criminal offence at common law to offer any reward on terms leading to compounding a felony or sheltering the offender (R. v. Burgess, 1886, 16 Q.B.D. 141), and under the Larceny Act 1861 (ss. 20, 101) it is criminal to accept a reward for recovery of stolen property without bringing the thief to justice.

2. Where a reward is lawfully offered for information the person who first supplies the required information, i.e. satisfies the conditions on which the reward is payable, is entitled to recover by action the reward offered. Performance of the conditions is an acceptance of the offer (Carlill v. Carbolic Smoke Ball Co., 1893, 1 Q.B. 256, 270). Thus on an advertisement for information leading to the arrest and conviction of shop-breakers, T. gave information which led to the arrest of R., who while in prison told the police where to find the thieves. T. was held entitled to the reward (Tamer v. Walker, 1866, L.R. I Q.B. 641). This rule applies even where the offer is general to all the world (Williams v. Carwardine, 18 33, 4 B. & Ad. 621; Spencer v. Harding, 1870, L. R. 5 C.P. 561). It would seem that on grounds of public policy an offender could not claim the reward on surrendering himself to justice (Bent v. Wakefield (.9.c. Bank, 1878, 4 C.P.D. I, 4). It is not clear whether officers of justice are by their office and duty debarred from claiming rewards offered for the arrest of offenders (Ibid. p. 5).

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