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Colonial Cases

In re Glover Dow and Co., 1871

[company liquidation]

In re Glover Dow and Co.

Supreme Court of China and Japan
4 April 1871
Source: The North-China Herald, 12 April 1871




4th April, 1871.

Before C. W. GOODWIN, Esq., Acting Chief Judge.

In Bankruptcy.


   The following decision was delivered to-day by the Acting Chief Judge, upon a rule applied for by the French Municipal Council, calling upon the Trustee of the estate of Glover Dow & Co., in liquidation, to show cause why a decision made by him should not be revered, and the claim of the applicants allowed to rank as a preferential one on the estate.

   Mr. Bird for applicants.

   Mr. Robinson for Glover Dow & Company's Trustee.


   I am called upon to decide whether the French Municipal Council has, in the matter of Glover Dow and Co.'s liquidation, a preferential claim to be paid in gull on respect of certain Municipal imposts and taxes, which it is admitted have been duly assessed.  The Trustee, while admitting the claim to rank pari passu with other claims, has declined to acknowledge thje claim as a preferential one.

   The section of the Bankruptcy Act 1869 on which the claimants rely is number 32, which gives priority to "all parochial or other local rates due at the time of the order of adjudication," and what I have to consider is whether the claims made by the French Municipal Council come under the heading of "parochial or other local rates" contemplated by the Act.

   The rate or imposts in respect of which a claim is made are of three kinds. 1. Impot Locattif Europeen, equivalent to a house tax.  2. Taxe de Propriete at Eclairage, a general impost for the cleansing and lighting of the Concession. 3. Droit sur les Wharfs.

   The first contention is that these rates or imposts being imposed by a foreign municipality, do not come within the policy of the Act.  But in view of the peculiar position in which British subjects are placed here, in regard to French and other nationalities, and the recognition which has been given to the French Municipality by the authorized representatives of other nationalities, I think this objection does not hold, and that rates imposed by the French Municipality come as much within the scope of the Act as those imposer by the mixed Municipality to the north of the Yang-king-pang.

   The only question then remaining is, whether the imposts in question come under the head of "parochial or other local rates."  The claims are of three kinds.  1. Impot Locatif Europeen, which I understand to be a house tax.  2. Taxe de Propriete et Eclairage - a general rate for cleansing and lighting.  3. Droits sur les Wharfs.  The first two are clearly local rates in the ordinary sense.

   The Droits sur les Wharfs are explained to be payments made for the use of the public wharfs, according to the space required by the party using, of which he gives previous notice, and for which he stipulates.  It appears to be in the nature of a rent pair by a private individual for the use of public property.  It is a matter of contract, and although the proceeds may be applied to public purposes, it comes within no definition of a rate that I know of.  As I have to look merely at what the statute actually says, and not to the policy or intention of those who drew it, I am compelled to hold that payments such as the so-called Droits sur les Wharfs, are not in any sense local rates, and consequently the claim in respect of them is entitled in bankruptcy proceedings to no preference.

   Each party to bear their own costs.

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