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Colonial Cases

McDonald v. Bell, 1840

[Crown debts]

McDonald v. Bell

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
14 December 1840
Source: The Times, 15 December, 1840

  This was an appeal from the Cape of Good Hope against a decree which declared the appellants to be liable for the debts of a person who had filled the office vendue commissary in the colony, and for whom the appellants had been security to the Crown. The grounds of the appeal were, first, that funds adequate to the payment of the debt, and which were left by the deceased commissary, and had come into the custody of the Government, ought to have been applied by them in discharge of this particular obligation; and, secondly, that the Crown had been a party to the sale to a third person of property belonging to the debtor,  which had realised more than sufficient to pay his debts; that the Crown had therefore wilfully divested itself of the means of securing the payment out of the funds of the deceased, and that as it had also thereby concurred in alienating the property to which the sureties might otherwise ultimately have recourse to in the event of their being compelled to pay the debt in the first instance, the Crown ought not to be allowed to compel the sureties to pay the debt.
  Mr. Pemberton and Mr. Martin addressed the Court for the appellants.
  The Solicitor-General, (with whom was Mr. Wightnan), appeared for the respondents, and had not concluded his address at the rising of the Court.

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