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Colonial Cases

Bieber v. Laurie, 1874

[mining law]

Bieber v. Laurie

Warden's Court, Shackle
Frampton, 14-15 July 1874
Source: Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 1 August 1874, p 2


(Before Warden Frampton.)
This was a case of disputed ownership; Mr. Lawrie being the applicant, and Mr. Bieber the objector.
Mr. Smith appeared for Bieber, and Dr. Kaufmann for Lawrie.
Mr. Smith opened the case, and stated that Mr. Bieber had hired two men, and despatched them to work the claim No. 2 north, Union Reef, on the 21st of May last (agreement produced), and having seen them off, and provided them with money, tools, &c, he felt satisfied that they would reach the claim in good time to relieve the others who were working it. They did not reach it, nor had Mr. Bieber seen them since, but he contended that the fact of the men being engaged and on the way constituted that the claim was properly represented. More than that, he would prove that the parties from whom Bieber bought the claim were working the claim till the last week in May, and the ground was jumped on the 29th, so that it was not possible that ten clear days should have elapsed from the time it was worked. He called Ernest Bieber, who said he and Mr. Frew acquired the claim by purchase. They employed labor; and that is the agreement produced. Saw the men (Ravenscroft and Woodward) off by the boat, and gave them money and provisions to take with them. Also telegraphed to Williams at the Shackle to put men on in case the others did not get up in time. The agreement was signed by Ravenscroft and Woodward in my house. Gave them money to buy provisions, &c. Have not seen Woodward since the 20th of May, but would not swear as to Ravenscroft. Did not know whether they had gone to the reefs when I left Southport. Was not up to the claim belore the 30th of May, but believed it was fully manned. I have not paid the men personally, but have caused them to be paid.
Edward Williams said he had received instructions from plaintiff to look after No. 2 north, Union Reef, and had done so. Men had been working until the last week in May. Did not pay Searle and Martin any wages, as they were at that time part owners of the claim. They were not working any other claim; although they owned a spare piece of ground, and held a fourth interest in the claim.
Richard Martin said he knew No. 2 north, Union. Worked it till the end of May, in conjunction with Searle and Prior. Then sold it. Sunk a shaft on the cap of the reef. Had a spare piece of ground, but did not work it. Do not know what day we left off work, but it was the last week, and near the end of May. Will swear that; but will not swear to any date, as we had no almanac.
Leonard Searle said he had been working on No. 2 north, Union, and did so from the 14th January till the 28th of May last. Prior and Martin were working with him, but was not sure what day they left. They lived together on the claim, and the party having sold out broke up at the end of May.
This was all the evidence called in support of the objection.
J. H. Lawrie, the applicant, said he went to the Union Reef, on the 29th of May, and there was no recent work done on the disputed claim. There was an old shaft about six feet deep, which had been sunk some time. No person was on the claim. Saw Mr. Williams there in the evening. Pegged out the ground on the 29th of May, and made application on the 30th.
W. Lawrie said he had been on the claim, No. 2 north of the Union on the evening of the 28th. Saw that a little work had been done on the claim, but did not consider it properly worked; looked upon it as abandoned ground. Went over the claim, but did not see any person on it.
Leonard Meyder said he knew No. 2 north, Union. Did not know whether Searle and Martin were working there. Had been to the claim once or twice, but did not notice how much work was done.
The Warden here pointed out that he did not want to know how much work had been done on the claim, but simply whether ten clear days had elapsed from the time it was worked till it was jumped or applied for.
J. H. Lawrie (recalled) said he certainly did not think the ground had been properly worked for some time.
Dr. Kaufmann reviewed the evidence at some length, laying great stress on the fact that none of the witnesses for the objection would swear as to what date they left off working the claim.
Mr. Smith in an able speech replied, and submitted that the witnesses for the application had not even proved that the ground was not represented at the time it was applied for, and even if there had been no person on the ground he had proved that his clients had engaged and dispatched men from Palmerston on the 21st of May, and it was applied, for on the 30th. At the conclusion of Mr. Smith's speech the Warden intimated that he would give judgment the next day.
Court adjourned.
This important case created a great deal of excitement, the Court being full, and a great number standing outside.
(Before Warden Frampton).
Bieber v. Lawrie.-Case adjourned from the previous day, when the evidence was taken and judgment deferred.
The Warden gave a verdict for the objector (Bieber).
After giving judgment in this case, the Warden read a telegram from the Government Resident, notifying that his (the Warden's) resignation was accepted, and that he was no longer Warden, and could not hear any more cases.
This information seemed to cause some dissatisfaction, as there were cases still to be decided which had been a long time pending.
After some complimentary remarks to Mr. Frampton from Mr. Smith, Dr. Kuifmann, Captain Sebbes, and Mr. Griiliths, the proceedings terminated.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School