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Colonial Cases

Robins and Co. v. Green, 1880


Robins and Co. v. Green

Supreme Court for China and Japan, Shanghai
French C.J., 15 April 1880
Source: The North China Herald, 17 April 1880




Shanghai, 15th April.

Before GEO. FRENCH, Esq., Chief Justice.

M. ROBINS & Co. v.  Mrs. M. GREEN.

   It appeared that the defendant had leased a portion of the premises occupied by the plaintiffs in Nanking Road from Messrs. David Sassoons, Sons & Co.  In the agreement between the defendant and Mr. Butt, the former had the option of remaining another year of she wished, but the plaintiffs wished to occupy the rooms themselves and so brought this suit.

   ADOLPHUS GRONNER, sworn, said - The other plaintiff and I tare trading under the style of Messrs. Robins & Co. at No. 15, Nanking Road.  On the 15th September, 1879, I rented certain premises in Nanking Road from Messrs. Davis Sassoon, Sons and Co. as per the agreement I hand you.  The lease was for two years, three months and a half.  I had no agreement with the defendant at all.  At that time defendant paid Mr. Butt $40 a month for portion of the upper part of the premises.  Mr. Butt left Shanghai about the beginning of November.  I do not know whether he had any lease from Messrs. Sassoon.  Mrs. Green had an agreement with Mr. Butt which terminated on the 29th February, 12880.  I found it among his papers after he had left Shanghai.  I do not know whether Mr. Butt had any lease with Messrs. Sassoon.  I do not know when Mr. Butt's tenancy expired.

   The defendant here handed in a lease which had been given to her by Mrs. Butt, which was not, however, signed by Messrs. Sassoon.

   His LORDSHIP said that the question to be decided was whether Mr. Butt had any power to grant this document.

   JOSEPH RAYMOND MICHAEL, sworn, deposed - I am a clerk in the employ of Messrs. David Sassoon, Sons & Co.  I represent the house.  Mr. Gubbay told me -

   His LORDSHIP said that he could not hear any evidence about what Mr. Gubbay told the witness.

   After some further conversation, the case was adjourned till 10.30 next morning, in order that the plaintiff might have an opportunity to obtain the presence of Mr. Gubbay as a witness.

16th April.

   This case was before the court on the previous day.

   Plaintiffs leased the premises No. 15, Nanking Road, formerly occupied by Mr. N. Butt, who sub-let the upper rooms to the defendant for one year, with the option of staying another year if she wished to do so.  One year of this sub-lease expired on the 1st March, and plaintiffs gave notice to the defendant to leave, but she objected, asserting her right to stay another year; consequently plaintiff instituted the present action to obtain possession of the premises.

   The hearing was adjourned on the previous day for the production of further evidence.

   Mr. REUBEN GUBBAY, of Messrs. David Sassoon, Sons & Co., deposed - I am a merchant in Shanghai and agent for the premises No. 15 Nanking Road.  Mr. Butt was the late tenant.  He had a lease which was cancelled last November.  I then destroyed it, and I have not a copy now.  Mr. Butt had the premises for three years from the 1st January, 1879, but his lease was cancelled by consent last November.

   In reply to his LORDSHIP, defendant produced her sub-lease from Mr. Butt, which was dated March, 1879, and was for one year.  She had also the option of renewing it for one year longer.

   Mrs. MARGARET GREEN, the defendant, was then sworn, and stated that she saw Butt sign her lease dated March, 1879.  Under it she was to lease six rooms at No. 15, Nanking Road, for one or two years as she washed.  The lease was signed by Butt before she paid the first month's rent.  The postscript was added subsequently, because the lease was all in Butt's favour, and she threatened to leave unless it was added.

   His LORDSHIP said it was unfortunate Mr. Gubbay had lost the lease he entered into with Mr. Butt.  As it was, there was nothing before him to show that Butt had not power to do what he professed to have done in the agreement produced by Mrs. Green.  Butt, according to Mr. Gubbay, was tenant for three years, but as he had said, Mr. Gubbay had unfortunately destroyed his lease at the time it was cancelled; therefore there was nothing to show that he had not power to sub-let the premises of he wished to do so, and apparently he had done so.

   Mr. GUBBAY said Butt had power to sub-let the premises, which was understood between them, but after the lease was cancelled and he destroyed it, he looked to Messrs. Robins and Co. as the sole tenants.

   His LORDSHIP - But Butt had power to sub-let if he liked?

   Mr. GUBBAY - he could sub-let.  He asked to sub-let, and I agreed to his doing so.

   His LORDSHIP - That being so, there is an end of the case.  There will be judgment for the defendant with costs, and Mrs. Green will continue in occupation until the end of the year, that is, until the end of February next.

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