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Colonial Cases

Thompson v. Peck, 1875


Thompson v. Peck

Civil Summary Court, Shanghai
Mowat, 22 March 1875
Source: The North China Herald, 25 March 1875



Shanghai, March 22nd.

Before R. A. MOWAT, Esq.


   This was an action to recover $82.60 for wages and money supplied.  Defendant denied his indebtedness, stating that he and the plaintiff were partners in a butcher's business - plaintiff being the managing partner.  The profits were to be equally divided.  Plaintiff kept the books, and made out the accounts; and had collected debts from various persons, but had produced no receipts.

   Plaintiff said that he was going to start the same kind of business with a Chinese, but was afterwards induced to join the defendant, and abandoned the Chinese.  He and the defendant commenced business on the 1st December last, in the Kiangse road, upon terms of partnership agreed to verbally between them, and they had traded together until a short time ago.  Defendant had some porkers and sucking-pugs, which he was to put into the business; but the books would show that close on 4,000 lbs of meat had been sold.  Plaintiff provided the "machinery," the putting up of the hooks, signboard, &c.  The profits of the trade were to be divided between them.

   His HONOUR - It is quite evident, then, that you, being a partner, cannot sue for wages.

   Plaintiff - But he turned round upon me, said I was only a servant of his, and ordered me away from the premises several times.  I went away on Saturday evening week.  If I am a partner, I want the books produced, as I know there must have been profits made.  We did not strike a balance at the end of the first month, because defendant said "let it run on for two or three months."  There were no profits at the end of the first month, but in the section we began to open up a trade.  I never could get a chance to look over the profits, as the defendant said I was only a servant, that the premises were his, and that I had nothing to do with them in any other way.  Several times he has kicked open the lid of my chest, took out money and bills due and made away with them.

   Defendant denied these assertions, and accused the plain tiff of nearly similar conduct. There was only a verbal agreement between them.  He (plaintiff) told him he had $200 in cash, and the books would show there were 2000lbs and not 4000lbs of meat, which he (defendant) had put in to the business, sold.  Plaintiff was indebted to several persons.  To one West he owed $70.  West became a customer, and stopped half the amount of his bill for the plain tiff's debt.  Several others of his bills were also paid in the same way.  Plaintiff had never before asked for wages.  On Saturday evening week, while he (defendant) was a "little drunk and asleep," plaintiff left the premises, taking with him one of the books, all the unpaid bills he could find, and the money he had collected.  He found him in French Town, knocked him down, and with assistance got the book and $15 from him; but, thinking he would be "hard up," gave him $3 of the money back again.  He had trusted the plaintiff to the fullest extent, and in return was treated by him very badly; and, instead of making profits, had been run by him over head and ears in debt, for which he (defendant) was expecting to be sued.

   Plaintiff said all the money he collected he handed over to the defendant, and did not know what he had done with it.

   His HONOUR did not think he could make anything of the case.  The claim for wages could not be sustained, because plaintiff was a partner, and it appeared from the defendant's statement that no profits had been made out of the business.

   Plaintiff said he knew there must have been profit made; and he would have the books "arbitrated," as there were more than $400 due.

   His HONOUR asked what books had been kept.

   Plaintiff replied a ledger, bill-book., and expenditure book.

   His HONOUR adjourned the case till the afternoon, for the production of these books; but on their being examined, they were found to be not understandable.  It was, however, apparent that the defendant had put the 2000 lbs of pork into the business, at 12 cents per lb., and it did not appear that money enough had been got in to pay for that even, independently of the outside bills that defendant had to meet.

   Judgment for defendant.

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