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Colonial Cases

Colonial Bank of St Lucia v. Marryat and Sons, 1845

[bill of exchange]

Colonial Bank of St Lucia v. Marryat and Sons

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
16 June 1845
Source: The Times, 17 June, 1845

Monday, June 16.
(Before the Lord President, Lord Brougham, the Judge of the Admiralty Court, Messrs. Pemberton, Leigh, and Knight Bruce.)

  This case came on appeal from a decision of the Royal Court of St. Lucia, arising out of an action brought in that Court by the appellants, as agents of the Colonial Bank in London, and managers of the branch established in the island of St. Lucia, to recover from the respondents the sum of 689 l., the amount of a bill of exchange drawn by a gentleman residing in the island of the name of Meynier, who had officiated on former occasions as attorney or agent for the respondents. When the bill in question was transmitted by the holders for acceptance in London, acceptance was refused, and ultimately at maturity the bill was not paid. It was dated St. Lucia, 7th of May, 1842, payable to London 90 days after sight.
  Messrs. Marryat and Sons are merchants and owners of certain estates in the island of St. Lucia.  One of the partners in January, 1842, went over to investigate and manage the affairs of the firm. Upon his arrival Mr. Marryat applied to him for fresh advances, which were refused. In the month of May following, the bill in question was drawn, and countersigned by King, as already stated, unknown to the respondents. The Court below dismissed the action, and found, under all the circumstances of the case, that in point of fact King was not authorized to sign the bill, and that the appellants were not justified in negotiating, nor warranted in believing that he (King) had authority to sign it.
  The argument for the appellants was briefly this, - that the agents of the bank were warranted in assuming that King had authority to sign the bill, from a previous course of dealing; that there was no negligence or want of prudence or caution on their part; and, therefore, the judgment to which the Court below had come was erroneous.
  On the other hand, it was maintained that no case whatever had been made out showing that King had any such authority as he had exercised, neither was the Court erroneous in the view which it had taken of this question. The authorities cited on the one side and the other need not be particularized.
  Mr. L. Wigram and Mr. Colville conducted the appellants' case, and Mr. Jervis and Mr. Greenwood the respondents'.
  The whole morning was consumed in the argument, at the close of which
  Lord Brougham, on the part of their Lordships, gave judgment, affirming the decision of the Court below; but without prejudicing the case of the appellants if they were advised to proceed upon the bill for damages against the respondents for not accepting the bill.  No costs were given.

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