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Colonial Cases

Watson and Co. v. Mustapha, 1876

[debt recovery]

Watson and Co. v. Mustapha

Supreme Court for China and Japan
Mowat, 20 November 1876
Source: The North China Herald, 23 November 1876




Shanghai, Nov. 20th.

Before R. A. MOWAT, Esq., Deputy Act. Judge.

W. WATSON & Co., (in liquidation) v. MUSTAPHA.

   This was an action to recover $286.33 on an account stated, with interest at the rate of ten per cent. per annum from the 15th Aug., 1875.

   Mr. H. J. SKEELS, as liquidator, represented the plaintiffs, and defendant, a man of colour, appeared in person, in support of his answer, which ran as follows:-

   SIR, - I most humbly beg to being before you the reason which unables me to pay Mr. H. J.  Skeels his claim of $286.33.

1st. - That since the beginning of the last year my business has been very slack, through my sickness, which prevented me attending daily my duty, so that is one of my principal reason that has only prevented me to better myself, but also in contracting new debts to cure myself.

2nd. - That although I have many other creditors, I have often offered Mr. Skeels to pay him a small contribution monthly.  To unable me to comply his demands in paying large sums, I am obliged to leave the matter to come before you to weight your  dessision, or would pray to be allowed to pay the sum of $5 or $10 monthly according to my possibility.

3rd. That I have also proposed to give to the said Mr. Skeels all my bills due by others, in payment of my debt, but he refused to accept it.

4th. - That In have sued also all my debtors before their respective Consuls, so the result is that I have to  receive from those employed $2 to $4 monthly, and the others nothing until they are employed.

   Finally, I beg to conclude, that I have had bad transactions with Mr. E. Byrne upwards six years, to the amount of more than a thousand dollars yearly, and so have duly paid all my accounts without even been called upon to do so.

   I therefore most humbly pray to take into consideration my present position to order as you may think proper. - I remain, Sir, your most humble and obedient servant, MUSTAPHA.

   Plaintiff, in answer to His Lordship, said he had read defendant's answer.

   His LORDSHIP - It speaks for itself, why he cannot pay this money.

   Plaintiff - I must take exception to one statement in it. He says he has offered me small amounts monthly. He has not done so - he has never offered to pay a cash. We have delayed all this time to enable him to do something, and he has done nothing but offer me a list of his debtors, of whose debts there is not one that is collectable.  I know of my own knowledge they are not.  The total amount of the list id $194, but he must have some other debts, because he could not have sold the goods at a loss, and they seem to have all been sold.  The goods were supplied to defendant between April 12th and June 25th, 1875.  He had had an account for years with Watson & Co., paying regularly, and it was only when the firm closed that he did not keep up his payments, and then seemed to have taken advantage of that to crease payment.  His last payment was made in February, and he has not offered to pay anything since.

   His LORDSHIP drew attention to the fact that two payments had been made by defendant since the firm closed, therefore it could not be said that he had taken advantage of that that to refuse payment.

   Defendant, in reply to a question, said he had lost between $200 and $300, this year and last.

   His LORDSHIP asked him if anybody else owed him money than those contained in the list he had given plaintiff?

   Defendant handed up w similar list to the Court, and said those were all.  If plaintiff would allow him to do business, he could pay him $10 per month.

   His LORDSHIP - At that rate it would take about two years and a half to pay the debt.

   Plaintiff demurred to accepting defendant's offer, on the plea that it would take so long as period.

   Defendant repeated that he could only pay $10 per month, adding that he had no money now.

   His LORDSHIP gave judgment for plaintiff, for the amount sued for, with $11.13 costs, but said he did not see what prospect there was of plaintiff obtaining his money except in the way defendant said, at 410 per month.  There was nothing else that could be done.  Defendant said he had no money, but if plaintiff had reason to believe that he had money he could bring him to Court, and examine him as to his means.

   Plaintiff reminded the Court that interest was also claimed.

   His LORDSHIP said interest was not allowed in these transactions, unless an arrangement had been previously made, until the date of the judgment, after which plaintiff would be entitled to interest.

   Plaintiff asked if it should be necessary to increase the amount, what amount of interest would be allowed?

   His LORDSHIP - Seven per cent from date of judger, and the first instalment will be due on the 5th December.

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