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Colonial Cases

Hop Wo Loong v. Woolfe, 1880

[debt recovery]

Hop Wo Loong v. Woolfe

Supreme Court for China and Japan
French C.J., 3 February 1880
Source: The North China Herald, 5 February 1880




Shanghai, 3rd February.

Before G. FRENCH, Esq., Chief Justice.


   This was an action to recover the sum of Tls. 200, alleged to be due to the plaintiff by the defendant.

   Plaintiff had filed a petition which set out that in October, 1878, he sold to the defendant 1,000 Russian roubles for Tls. 400.  Defendant paid Tls. 200 but had not paid the balance, and plaintiff had been unable to find him though he had called at the house where he lived several times.

   Defendant had not filed an answer.

   Plaintiff was a Cantonese, and the Clerk of the court informed his Lordship that the Consular interpreter could not interpret that dialect.  An attempt was made to obtain the services of Mr. Wing, clerk in the Shipping Office, but that answer was that he was too busy to attend the Court.  Mr. Allen, the Vice-Consul, happened to come into Court and his services were solicited by his Lordship.  Mr. Allen said he was afraid the plaintiff could not understand him, and this was found to be the case.  The compradore was next suggested, but his Lordship said the compradore had his own duties to attend to. Defendant volunteered his services as interpreter, and with his assistance, aided by the pidgin English of the Clerk of the Court, who communicated with the plaintiff through another Chinaman, the plaintiff's co-partner in business, the plaintiff was examined.

    Plaintiff gave his name as Kwo Tsze-ching, and said he was a partner in the Hop Wo-loong hong.  There were three other partners beside himself, and they did business with Hongkong, Canton and Wladivostock, in general cargo and Russian money.  He sold Russian roubles to the defendant, and produced a receipt signed by the defendant.

   Slow progress was made, and his LORDSHIP asked the defendant what his defence was.

   Defendant   replied that his defence was stated in his answer to the petition.

   The Clerk of the court said an answer had been sent in, addressed either to his Lordship or Mr. Smith, but he had not put it on the file because the fee was not paid.

   Defendant said he did not know it was necessary to pay a fee.  He saw Mr. Hore about it and he thought it was all right.  He had a copy of it and his defence was fully stated in it, and he would hand it in.

   His LORDSHIP said he could not consider a document which ought to be on the file of the Court.

   Defendant then explained that his defence was simply that he had paid the money but not to either of the men (the plaintiff and his friend) in Court.  He paid it to another man in the hong.

   Eventually it was decided to adjourn the case until today, when all the partners in the hong are to appear and defendant in the meantime was to pay the fee and have his answer to the partition put on the file.

The North China Herald, 12 February 1880



Shanghai, 4th Feb.

Before GEO. FRENCH, Esq., Chief Justice.


   This case was before the court ion the previous day, when it was adjourned for the plaintiff to produce all the partners in the hong with which he was connected, defendant having alleged that he paid the Tls. 200 for which he was sued to one of them whose name he did not know.

   The four partners in the hong appeared and they all denied having received the money from the defendant.

   Defendant called his jinrikisha coolie who deposed that hr remembered taking the defendant to the plaintiff's hong.  Defendant went into the hong with some tael notes in his hand, and through a glass door he saw defendant hand the notes to one of the partners now in Court.

   This was denied by the partner referred to.

   His LORDSHIP pointed out that if defendant had paid the money, he should have got back the receipt he gave for the roubles.

   Defendant replied that he asked for the receipt but he could not get it.

   There was again no qualified interpreter present, and after an investigation of nearly two hours the case was again adjourned until 6th inst.

6th February.

   This case has been before the Court twice previously, and the details have already appeared in our columns.

   The Consular Interpreter and Mr. WING from the Shipping Office were now present and interpreted the evidence, which was similar to that given at the previous hearings, the same witnesses being examined.

   Defendant repeated on oath that he had paid the money, and said that when he did so, and on two or three occasions since, he had applied for the receipt he gave at the time he got the roubles from the plaintiff.

   Plaintiff and his co-partners denied this, and alleged that defendant had promised to pay but he had never done so.

   His LORDSHIP gave a verdict for the defendant, but advised him to be more careful in his future transactions.

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