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Colonial Cases

Hellerman v. Lane Crawford and Co., 1876

[sale of goods]

Hellerman v. Lane Crawford and Co.

Civil Summary Court, Shanghai
Mowat, 27 march 1876
Source: The North China Herald, 30 March 1876



Shanghai, March 27th.

Before R. A. MOWAT, Esq.


   Plaintiff claimed Tls. 25 for alleged wrongful sale of a dog.  He said - I bought the dog on October 156th last year, at an auction, Mr. Triggs being the auctioneer.  About a fortnight ago, the animal ran away, and I did not see it again for a few days, when I saw it in the street, with Mr. Gubbins.  I asked about the dog, and Mr. Gubbins said it was his property, and he would not give it up.  As I bought the animal, I did not see that I should lose its value.  Mr. Gubbins told me that the dog had formerly belonged to Mr. Irving, who, however, had not seen it for some time, and that he (Mr. Gubbins) had found it in Hongkew.

   Mr. TRIGGS, who represented the defendant, said he sold the fog to the plaintiff, at an auction, by the direction of as Chinaman named A-Ling.  The dog was sent to the auction-room only on the morning of the sale.

   His HONOUR told the plain tiff that id he claimed the dog ads his, and Mr. Gubbins took it away, Mr. Gubbins was the proper person to be sued.

   Plaintiff said his case was that he bought the dog at an auction, that he gave it up to Mr. Gubbins, who recognised it by certain marks; and that he thought he ought to recover from the auctioneer.

   Mr. TRIGGS said the dog was brought for sale on the morning of the auction, by A-ling; and defendant had no doubt then, nor had they any doubt now, that it was his property at the time.  A-ling was unfortunately gone to Singapore, and could not be called to prove the fact; but he was some relation to Weng, a clerk in the Shipping Office, who knew of the ownership and sale.

   Plaintiff asked to be permitted to read a letter he had received from Mr. Gubbins.  It was to the effect that he had found the dog in Hongkew on the 10th instant; and that it was supposed to have been stolen, but was advertised as lost, fourteen months ago; the letter also contained an offer to refund to plaintiff the amount he paid for the for at the auction, viz., Tls. 4.

   His HONOUR asked how the animal had increased so much in value?

   Plaintiff replied, that when he bought it, it was in a wretched condition, that he had since taken great care of it, and had had it trained thoroughly; in addition to which there was the cost of its keep, altogether making it worth the sum he claimed.

   His HONOUR asked what kind of dog it was?

   Plaintiff said it was sold as a pointer, but it had then only been trained for retrieving.
   His HONOUR said he probably had enough facts before him, though not taken, as usual, on oath to en able him to decide the case.  His impression at present was that plaintiff should have sued Mr. Gubbins, either for the return of the dog or for the value put upon it.  The question of ownership could then have been decided; and if that were decided against him, he would then have a remedy against A-ling.  As it was, however, a very important case to auctioneers generally, as to whether they were considered in law as in any way warranting the title of the goods they sold. He added that it might be more satisfactory to the defendants, if, before giving an express division, he looked into the authorities.  He would let both parties know in a day or two whether he would require any evidence in the matter.  At present he would take it that he had all the facts before him, and would assume that those facts were true.

During the day, the Court caused the parties to be informed that, in a sale of goods by an auctioneer, there was, in English law, no implied warranty as to title, and that as there was no express warranty set up in the present case, the plaintiff could not succeed in his action.

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