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Decisions of the Superior Courts of New South Wales, 1788-1899

Lee v. Shanahan [1834] NSWSupC 101

assault - Dowling J., prejudices of

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Dowling J., 6 October 1834

Source: Sydney Herald, 9 October 1834[1 ]

Monday. - Lee v. Shanahan and others. - This was an action to recover compensation for an assault and battery.  Damages were laid at £200.  Mr. Williams opened the case. - Observing that in matters of this nature professional men were entirely at the mercy of their clients, and not unfrequently imposed upon, from a wish to give a high coloring to facts; but if he had not been so deceived, the present was one of the most sanguinary outrages that ever came before a Court of Justice, and called for the most exemplary damages.  His Honor, Mr. Justice Dowling, suggested the propriety of withdrawing a juror in this case, the parties paying their own costs.  It was scarcely to be expected that a Court could sit, at an enormous expence to the public, to try a mere public house broil, and expressed some surprise that such a case was brought forward - the offended party had had an immediate remedy, by carrying his case before the Magistrates, when the usual fine of five pounds, or a reference to the Court of Quarter Sessions, would have quite satisfied the justice of the case, Mr. Williams said, that unfortunately in cases of this nature, the fines go exclusively to the King, thereby affording no immediate compensation to the offended party for the injuries inflicted on him; in this particular case, he was prepared to shew that a considerable sum had been incurred for medical attendance previously to his going to hospital, in consequence of the outrages committed on him by defendants.  His Honor said, that it was absolutely impossible to go into such a case without holding up a dangerous incentive to the perpetuation of those unhappy quarrels which have from time immemorial characterized the inhabitants of Ireland.  It was well known that an Irishman, when under the influence of liquor, was disposed to fight; and therefore parties must be aware of the danger of rushing into contests, which ought to be avoided.  It was unreasonable to expect from a Court of Justice a redress of grievances arising out of the most culpable indiscretion on their parts.  The parties acquiesced in the well intentioned and highly creditable suggestions of His Honor, and the case was abandoned, both parties paying their own costs.



[1 ] The trial notes are in Dowling, Proceedings of the Supreme Court, State Records of New South Wales, 2/3286, vol. 103, p. 111.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University