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

Wallis v. Templeton [1842] NSWSupC 61

work and labour, architecture

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Burton J., 28 April 1842

Source: The Australian, 27 April 1842 [1]

This was an action to recover the amount of work and labour done by the plaintiff for the defendant in drawing out plans and specifications for certain houses in Castlereagh-street. Mr. Windeyer appeared for the plaintiff, the Solicitor-General and Mr. Broadhurst for the defendant.

Mr. Windeyer in putting the plaintiff's case said, that he was a builder in Sydney . That the defendant called upon him, and asked him to draw out plans of two houses, concerning which he directed him. The plaintiff had done so, and the defendant had given the plans and specifications prepared by plaintiff to another builder to build from. Defendant had proffered from the plaintiff £6 for the trouble he had been at in drawing up the plans, but which Mr. Wallis had declined to accept, the charge made generally for drawing up such plans and specifications being 2½ per cent on the estimate. If the designer superintended the work he had another 2½ per cent. He should shew that   defendant had requested the plans to be made, that they had been made and delivered to him, and that they had been worked from, and on these grounds he contended that his client was entitled to a fair remuneration for the labour, skill, and experience he had bestowed upon the plans.

Mr. Coperthwaite was then called, who said, he was a clerk to Mr. Wallis, and that some time back defendant had called on his employer to ask him to draw out some plans and specifications. He, witness, had copied the specifications produced from Mr. Wallis' draught, and delivered them to the defendant.

Mr. Hume and Mr. Robinson were called to prove the usual charge for such work, which they said was 2½ per cent., which they also said was not more than a fair remuneration for the performance of such a job. Also a person of the name of Martin was called, who spoke to the building which had been erected being in apparent accordance with the plan produced.

For the defendant the Solicitor-General argued, that what had been said about the usual charge was not to the point. What they had to consider was, the proper remuneration for the work and labour performed: for this, £6 had been paid by the defendant , which he should shew was fully sufficient, as the specification was so incorrect and incomplete, that it had to be deviated from, both from its not regarding the provisions of the Building Act and for other inconsistencies.

James Mains, builder, said, he built the houses in question for Mr. Templeton. He had not worked according to the specification, because it was incorrect. This witness, and several other builders, gave their opinion that £5 or £6 would be fair payment for the plan, &c.

His Honor then reviewed the case, and told the assessors the labourer was worthy of his hire, and they must judge of the reasonableness of plaintiff's claim, taking into account the amount of labour, professional skill, and experience that has been exerted by him, and which it appeared, by evidence, had been used for defendant's benefit.

A verdict for the plaintiff was returned, damages £10.


[1] See also Sydney Herald, 29 April 1842.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University