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Colonial Cases

Berthet v. Elton, 1880

[absconding debtors]

Berthet v. Elton

Supreme Court for China and Japan
French C.J., 16 January 1880
Source: The North China Herald, 22 January 1880




Shanghai, 16th January.

Before G. FRENCH, Esq., Chief Justice.


   This was an action to recover the sum of $383.  Plaintiff is a tradesman in the French concession, and defendant, who was formerly a member of the police force, is a publican also in the French Concession.

   Defendant, who was brought up in the custody of H.B.M.'s chief gaoler, having been arrested by order of the Court to prevent him absconding, admitted the debt.  He said he was unable to pay the amount, but was anxious to come to an arrangement.  He could pay $100 down; he had a note for Tls. 40 payable on demand in five months; the balance he would lpay in monthly in syalmengts of $25, and he thought he could give security tomorrow.

   Plaintiff refused to accept these terms, and asked for the law to take its course.

   In answer to his Lordship, defendant said he resided in Shanghai and had some goods here.

   The Clerk of the Court said the total amount the defendant would have to pay, including costs, was $406.60.

   His LORDSHIP was afraid there must be an immediate execution.  He had evidence before him that defendant had attempted to abscond.

   Defendant denied that he attempted to leave Shanghai.

   His LORDSHIP told him that it was upon the evidence he had before him that he was arrested.

   Defendant again denied that he attempted to abscond.

   His LORDSHIP ordered an immediate execution, and it was explained to the plaintiff, who is a Frenchman and unable to speak much English, that if his claim was not thereby satisfied, he was to apply for a judgment summons upon which defendant could be brought up immediately.

   Defendant said he had received notice to leave his shop.

   His LORDSHIP replied that was a matter with which he had nothing to do.  At present defendant would go back to gaol, but as soon as the plaintiff's claim was satisfied he could apply to be discharged.

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