Skip to Content

Colonial Cases

Leighton v. Lewis, 1874

[employment law, mining]

Leighton and others v. Lewis

Warden's Court, Palmerston
Connor, 2 March 1874
Source: Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 6 March 1874, p 2





(Before Mr. Connor, Chief Warden.)


Leighton v. Lewis. - Claim for £38 5s. balance of wages alleged to be due from the Telegraph Mining Company.

Mr. Smith for the defendant.

From the evidence of the plaintiff it appeared that he was discharged by Mr. Phillips at Pine Creek for neglect of duty, on the 21st January, because he had knocked off work, on account of being dissatisfied with the non-payment of £19 10s. to his banking account in Palmerston, where Mr. Lewis was gone to, leaving word with plaintiff that he would pay the money on his arrival. Plaintiff telegraphed to him on the subject, and Mr. Lewis replied that the Bank had refused to take the Companies orders; but he would see that plaintiff's money was all right. As Mr. Phillips could not give any explanation about this plaintiff was dissatisfied, and left off work until he could get some satisfaction, especially as it was understood that Mr. Lewis was going away by the next steamer. Mr. Phillips then discharged plaintiff, and charged him 2s. per meal for every meal he took at the place. Plaintiff therefore came to town and saw Mr. Lewis, who said he had nothing to do with him as he was in Mr. Phillips' employ when discharged. The £19 10s., however, had been paid into the Bank; it was paid in the day he knocked off work; but he did not know this until he arrived in town. He now claimed the amount which would be due to the end of his agreement as he would have continued work if he could have been satisfied about his money. Before Mr. Lewis left Pine Creek he transferred plaintiff over to the care of Mr. Phillips, who discharged him when he refused to work.

Mr. Smith called Alfred Rayner, who was was present when Mr. Phillips spoke to plaintiff and other men. Heard him say to the men that if they would go to work, and give him a few days he would put everything right. But he also said he had nothing to do with Leighton, Clark, and Booth, because they were under another agreement.

Mr. Lewis, on being called, said he did not send up Leighton's cheque because he heard that Leighton was on his way down. The money was paid into the Bank, and now if Leighton would go back and complete his agreement he would be paid his wages as usual to the end of his time.

The Warden gave judgment to the effect that plaintiff should be paid reasonable costs for his journey to Palmerston and back-£4 10s. each way-and also 30s. for expenses since the adjournment last week. He could then go back and work and get the rest of the wages under the agreement.

Plaintiff asked if future payments would be in orders or in cash?

The Warden said that question was not before him. But the men could demand payment of their wages every Saturday night if they liked.

Two other cases, Clark v. Lewis and Booth v. Lewis, were decided in the same way.

Shaw v. Lewis.-Claim for £37 10s. wages, said to be due under agreement with the Telegraph Company.

Mr. Smith for the defendant.

Plaintiff said his case was not exactly like the last, because he had orders which he kept by him until a notice was put up at Pine Creek that "All orders on and after the 12th January would be payable in Palmerston." On seeing this, plaintiff asked Mr. Phillips what was to be done with the orders dated before 12th January; and as Mr. Phillips did not give him satisfactory answers, he knocked off work and carne down to Palmerston, where Mr. Lewis exchanged the orders for a cheque of his own, deducting one pound discount. That cheque was paid at the Bank.

Mr. Lewis said that the inconvenience arose from some mismanagement of the Company in Adelaide, and from the disagreement of the Telegraph Company with the Eleanor Company. This caused the Bank to refuse the orders, and witness therefore cashed them himself.

Judgment the same as before, as the plaintiff left his work on account of the uncertainty about the orders being refused.

The claims of three other men-Chisholm, Wilson, and Thompson, which were very similar to the others, were decided in the same way, excepting that plaintiffs were told that in the event of their not returning to carry out the agreement no expenses would be allowed for travelling up the country.

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