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Colonial Cases

Wood v. Loftus, 1863


Wood v. Loftus

Consular Court, Shanghai
Source: The North-China Herald, 16 May 1863



Saturday, May 16th, 1863.

Before             FREDERICK HARVEY, Esq., and assessors.


This was an action for defamation of character.  The Consul enquired if the parties had come to any arrangement.

Mr. COOPER, for the defendant, stated that he thought it would be unnecessary to proceed with the case.  His client had missed a pair of Pistols from his cabin, shortly after a friendly visit from the plaintiff, and believing the Pistols had been taken away as a joke, he complained about it, not to any third person, but to the plaintiff himself.  Under a little irritation he complained in rather strong language, and for this the plaintiff sued for defamation of character.

Although the letters were not actionable, Capt. Loftus had sent a written apology for any annoyance he had caused the plaintiff, and he thought it would have been accepted.  He now begged to repeat that the defendant never intended to impute petty larceny to the plaintiff, or that he had any motive beyond a practical joke, and that defendant withdrew all expressions which had given offence.

Mr. LAWRANCE, on behalf of the plaintiff, stated that as an ample apology had been offered, of course it would be accepted as the only object his client had in bringing the action was the vindication of his character, his client informed him however that he had never received the letter of apology that had been mentioned.  Considering however that the charge was admitted, his client thought he was entitled to some damages, as the defendant ought not to have acted as he had don, and as they had been brought there at some inconvenience, he would suggest that one hundred dollars should be awarded.

It was ultimately agreed at the suggestion of the Consul, that the Defendant should pay expenses, and the case closed.

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