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

In re Hill [1840] NSWSupC 96

insolvency

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Stephen J., 27 November 1840

Source: Sydney Herald, 28 November 1840

            William Hill, builder, had applied for his discharge, and was opposed by Mr. O'Reilly, on behalf of Jabez Handley, brickmaker, on the ground that since he became insolvent he had been living at the most extravagant rate of £9 6s. 6d. per week, including £3 14s. per week for rent.  The items in this Insolvent's schedule were as follows:-

            Particulars of expences alluded to in page four of the insolvent's schedule amounting to £192 11s. 6d:

July 24 - Paid - Gillespie, baker,

balance of account for bread contracted

            in May and June ...........................                      5     1     0

July 29 - Paid R. Campbell, Junior,

            & Co., for sundry articles had in February,

            March, and April, viz., one catty of tea £3,

            One box of soap, £1 5s. 8d ................                    4     5     8

One bag of sugar .....................................                    3     18   5

One ditto ditto ........................................                     3     9     10

Two casks Dunbar's ale .............................                    4     16   0

Two gallons of vinegar .............................                       0     7     6

July 30 - Paid for meat supplied in

            March, Aril, May and June................                      1     6     6

September 12 - Paid Mr. Kennedy,

            for meat had in June .......................                       3     0     0

September 24 - Paid Smith and Salmon, balance

            of account, for meat had in February and

            March .........................................                   3     7     3

Paid for hats, shoes, and other articles of

            Clothing ......................................                     5     3     6

                                                                                                ­­­­­­­_______________

                                                                                             £33    15   8

Expenses for one week, bread 30s.,     

            meat 35s., candles 7s. 6d ..................                     3     12   6

Fuel 10s., tea, sugar, soap. &c. 12s ...............                     1      2    0

Beer, butter, and other incidental expenses ......                       0     18   0

Rent ...................................................                    3     14   0

                                                                                                ­­­­________________

                                                                                              £9     6     6

Seventeen weeks at £9 6s. 6d. .....................                 158     10   6

Bills paid during that period .......................                      33     15   8

                                                                                                ________________

                                                                                          £192     6     2

His Honor remanded the insolvent for a week, in order to enable him to make enquiry as to what were the reasonable expenses for a person in the same line of life as the insolvent, who had a wife, two servants, and an apprentice to support; but he certainly considered £9 6s. 6d. a most extravagant weekly outlay, and would punish him most severely if he found that he had  been squandering the money that ought to have paid his debts.

Stephen J., 4 December 1840

Source: Sydney Herald, 5 December 1840

            Mr. William Hill, the builder, who had been previously twice remanded, was this day again brought up.  The insolvent had on a former occasion, been very strictly interrogated as to the items of his expenditure.  The action against him was commenced in July last; and the act requires an account of all a defendant's receipts and payments, from that time.  The insolvent admitted only the receipt of four sums, since these, by an outlay for bread, meat, and other necessaries, which certainly seemed enormous.  His family, he stated, consisted of five persons only; including two servants, and an apprentice.  He acknowledged that, during the whole period, he knew himself to be insolvent.  It was insisted, by his opposing creditor, that, under such circumstances, a man had no right to keep servants; but that, at any rate, the amount said to have been expended in their and his own support, was unjustifiable and scandalous.  How could the sum of £6 per week, exclusive of rent be necessary for the maintenance of only five individuals?  The insolvent was then remanded, to afford opportunity for further inquiries; and to enable him to explain.  On this day he produced a witness, who proved that the expenditure in question was, in point of fact, not for five persons only; but that the insolvent had, in addition, kept three lodgers, whom, during the last four months, he had furnished with board, and from whom he had been receiving at the rate of £5 weekly.  The witness said, indeed, that the greater part of that money had been stopped, to repay former advances: but he had admitted that, at all events, £20 or £30 in the whole had been paid, and he would not say but that there might have been paid as much as £40.  Of these sums, not any portion had been included by the insolvent in his schedule.

            Mr. Justice Stephen expressed, in strong terms, his disapproval of the Insolvent's conduct.  He had deliberately omitted from his schedule, all notice of sums received from his lodgers and yet had ventured to swear that the contents of that schedule were true.  If it had this day appeared, that the Insolvent had really expended his admitted receipts, as until now it would seem that he had, in supporting merely a household of five persons, he (the judge) should have held that it was a culpable squandering of the Insolvent's menns[sic, and punishable as such.  But, this morning, he had exposed himself to a much heavier charge.  The expenditure had been incurred, it now turned out, in the support not of five persons but of eight.  And why had this circumstance been kept back?  Because its disclosure would at once have betrayed the fact that more money had been received, than the Schedule accounted for.  At all events, whatever the motive, this was the effect of the Insolvent's conduct, - that thus, considered either way the Act violated, and the truth is discovered only by an accident.  As the case now stood, there were sums of money received, and unacknowledged; and what has become of them, or whether they have been expended at all, there is no information whatever.  Such conduct must be visited with punishment; or the frauds practised by insolvents, (and there were enough already,) would be encouraged, and increased ten-fold.  For his own part, he was resolved, whilst he continued to have any thing to do with the administering of the law in cases of this kind, to pursue the course that he hitherto had done.  He would sift every case, as far as he could, to the bottom.  He would take care, that the provisions of the Act were not evaded; and that men should not obtain the benefit of it, unless they made a full and fair disclosure of the state of their affairs, and gave an honest and straight-forward account of their transactions, in every particular that it could be useful to creditors to know.  He had understood that the insolvent how before him bore a respectable character.  But making every allowance for him, he thought his conduct most reprehensible.  Still, considering his situation in life, and the consequent degradation to him of any punishment, he should not pass a severe one.  The insolvent had already been some weeks in prison; and the very remarks that he (the Judge) was then making, would operate as some punishment, by the injury they would do the insolvent, in point of character.  But for these considerations, his Honor should, as a much heavier sentence than he now proceeded to pass; which was, that the insolvent should be imprisoned, in the Common Gaol, for the term of one calendar month.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University