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Colonial Cases

Minor cases China, 1884

North China Herald, 20 February 1884
  Yesterday, one of the quarters of our Martial City in the neighbourhood of Huang-hua Kuan (Chinese characters) was considerably enlivened by the presence of a large crowd which had gathered to witness the registering of an important case in the rolls of the above Court.  Such a case has not been known in this district for at least 60 years, so is causing some excitement. It appears that two years ago a Ling-sheng (characters) met with death very suddenly and under peculiar circumstances, and his son,  was is a B.A., fears his father has either been poisoned or murdered by the gentleman who employed him as teacher. The son hitherto has been unable to get his case properly investigated as the family happened to be living half-way between two Hsiens, one of the two refusing to enquire into the affair, though the other was quite willing to do so.  It was therefore referred to the Fu (Yuen-yang Fu -characters), but as the two Hsiens differed in the matter, the Fu could not give judgment.  The son then went to the capital (Peking), and after representing his case has now been sent to this city (Wuchang) to have his cause examined and judged by the Viceroy.  The deceased man's bones have been carefully scraped of their flesh and boiled to see by their appearance if there has been foul play.  Yesterday, the son duly registered his case upon the rolls of the office referred to above, but how it will eventually be decided is a matter for speculation and gossip.  I hear that already Tls. 10,000 have been spent investigating the affair, and two mandarins (a Hsien and Fu I believe) have been degraded.  14th February.


North China Herald, 12 March 1884
Shanghai, 7th March, 1884
Before Sir Richard Temple Rennie, Chief Justice.
  This was an application on the part of the plaintiff that the accounts of various transactions between the plaintiff and the defendant should be taken under the direction of the court. [Not transcribed.]
  His Lordship adjourned the case sine die, and made an order for the taking of the accounts from the 1st January, 1883, expressing the hope that the plaintiff and defendant would agree in the appointment of a referee.  The question of costs was allowed to stand over.


North China Herald, 19 March 1884
Shanghai, 13th March, 1884
Before Sir Richard Temple Rennie, Chief Justice.
  His Lordship today gave judgment in this case, heard on Monday, the 10th inst.  The plaintiffs sued for Tls. 150, which they alleged been overpaid to the defendant by mistake, on account of salary. The defendant denied this; but he had in a letter to the plaintiffs agreed to an account containing the item in dispute.
[Not transcribed]  .  .  .   It is, however, well established that an account stated is not conclusive, and that a defendant who is sued in respect of a balance of such account may show if he can that certain of the items in the account were respecting debts void for want of consideration, or upon consideration that has failed.  Here the defendant has satisfied me that his promise to pay the sum of Tls. 150 was conditional, and not made by way of compromise of disputed claims on general accounts, or in consideration of forbearance on the part of the plaintiffs to sue or prosecute a bona fide claim for a larger sum.  The plaintiffs' case thus fails, and there must be judgment for defendant with costs.


North China Herald, 2 April 1884
Shanghai, 27th March, 1884.
Before Dr. Gabriel, H.I.G.M.'s Vice-Consul, and Messrs. H. Munster Schultz and W. Meyerink, Assessors.
  Carl Christian Hannemann, aged 27, sailor, was charged with stealing a watch, the property of Mr. Schneider, book-binder, of Broadway, Hongkew.  He was further charged with assaulting police constable Garwood while on duty.
  From the evidence of Chief Inspector Cameron and three German witnesses, it appeared that the prisoner, who was only released last January after undergoing twelve months' imprisonment for stabbing a man on board the German ship Ingo, went on Sunday evening to the Empress of India tavern, in company with the prosecutor and two other Germans.  While there, the prosecutor missed his watch, and part of the chain, which had been broken.  He sent for the police, and the constable asked all four men to come with him to the Police Station.  While on the way, the constable's suspicions were aroused by seeing Hannemann dropping behind, and keeping an eye on him, he saw him place something on the top of a wall.  Going back to the spot, he found on the wall the missing watch, with part of the chain hanging to it.  He arrested Hannemann, and at the station, when an attempt was made to search the prisoner, he furiously assaulted the constable. The constable's account was corroborated by the evidence of the German witnesses.
  The prisoner pleaded not guilty, and denied that the watch had been placed on the wall by him.
  The Court, after a brief deliberation, sentenced the prisoner to three months' imprisonment for theft and two months' for the assault, commuting the punishment under German law to four months' imprisonment for the two offences.


North China Herald,  23 May 1884
Shanghai, 21st May.
Before R.A. Mowat, Esq., ASSISTANT Judge.
E. Hey v. T. H. Vale.
  This was a claim of Tls. 32.34 for brokerage, etc., in respect of a quantity of pig lead.
  His Honour remarked that the debit note was rendered to the American Clock and Brass Company.
  The Plaintiff explained that his claim was really against the American Clock and Brass Co., but he had been to the American Consulate and was told that he must summon Mr. Vale, as manager of the Company, and as Mr. Vale was an Englishman he came to this Court.
  His Honour asked if the company was an American Company.
  The Defendant said yes; it was registered at the American Consulate.  But if the defendant could prove his claim, he (Mr. Vale) was willing to admit his personal responsibility and pay the money out of his own pocket.  It appeared that by the rules of the American Court proceedings had to be taken against an individual, and not against a company.
  His Honour said he could not deal with the case simply because the Company, who were the real defendants, had an English manager.
  The Plaintiff remarked that Mr. Vale was not manager of the company at the time when the debt was alleged to have been incurred.  He did not know Mr. Vale at all and had never had anything to say to him.  He sued Mr. Vale simply as manager of the Company.
  His Honour remarked that there must be some way of getting at the Company; but he did not see how this Court could give relief, for the simple reason that the Company was registered in the American Consulate; its property was under the jurisdiction of the American Court, and consequently this Court could not make any order with reference to it.  If it had been an English Company with an American manager the case would certainly have been heard at this Court, and the manager could be called as a witness o anything else.
  The defendant said he was prepared to take upon himself the liability of the company.
  His Honour thought he could not deal with the case, even under those circumstances.
  The Plaintiff - Well, your Honour, tell me where I am to go to get my rights.
  Defendant - If you prove that the Company owes you money I will pay t.
  His Honour said he could not deal with the case at present, even if the defendant agreed to take upon himself the liability of the Company, because the Rules of the court required that "Where a plaintiff sues any person as agent for some other person, not seeking to fix such agent with any personal liability, the Court shall refuse to proceed further in the matter unless and until the person sued as agent undertakes, by writing under his hand, to defend the suit, and personally to satisfy any decree or order for debt or damages and costs therein; and the person sued as agent shall further, within such time as the Court orders and before th haring of the suit, procure and give with the proceedings a sufficient authority in writing from the party on whose behalf such agent is affecting to act."  His Honour asked the plaintiff why he did not go to the American Court.
  Plaintiff said he had been to the American Court and was told he could not sue a corporation; he must sue an individual.
  The Defendant repeated that in order to vindicate the Company he was ready to admit his personal liability if the debt could be proved against the company.  He said it was simply a trumped up case brought by the plaintiff because he (Mr. Vale) had on behalf of the American Clock and Brass Company (now the American Trading Company), sued the plaintiff in the German Court for $9, the price of a watch.
  The Plaintiff protested against the defendant's statement.  He said the case about the watch, which he could prove that he paid for, had nothing to do with this case.
  His Honour said the rule which he had read precluded him from hearing the case, at present at all events.
  The Defendant said he was ready to sign any undertaking that was necessary, either on his own behalf or per procuration for the Company.
  His Honour thought the plaintiff's remedy was in the American Court.
  The Plaintiff repeated that the American Court refused to take the case.
  His Honour thought very likely if he plaintiff went to the American Court and told them that he had been to the British Court and he (the Judge) declined to adjudicate, that would be sufficient ground for them to allow him to proceed in the American Court.  If they could not take proceedings there, he (Mr. Mowat) was quite willing to settle the case, but it would not be as judge of this Court.
  The Plaintiff suggested that as the parties and their witnesses were present, His Honour should sit as arbitrator at once.
  His Honour said he was quite willing to do that.
  Mr. Mowat then asked the public and the press to retire, and sat as arbitrator in the case in private.


North China Herald, 6 June 1884
Shanghai, 3rd June.
Before R. A. Mowat, Esq., Assistant Judge.
  The defendant appeared on a summons to answer a claim of $49 for land-tax due to the Chinese Government for the plot of land No. 1,423, for the two years 883 and 1884.
  His Honour asked the defendant if he owed the money.
  The defendant said he did.
  His Honour - If you owe the amount why did you not pay it?
  Defendant - because I have a counter-claim against him,.
  His Honour - What for?
  Defendant - Your Honour, may I ask who this man (the plaintiff) is?
  His Honour - What reason have you to go into that?  You admit owing the amount, and here is a man who sues you for it.  What does it matter who he is?
  Defendant - This land is outside the Foreign Settlement.  It is under Chinese law; and I have certain duties towards the Chinese Government and the Chinese Government have certain duties towards me.  They ought to protect my property.  My fence has been continually broken down and pillaged, and I have frequently applied to Mr. Penfold and have never been able to get satisfaction.  I have laid the matter before Mr. Scott, also, and he has told me that it is a matter between me and the tipao.  But I have repeatedly tried to find the tipao, and I have never been able to localize him.  When I find him I shall summon him to the Mixed Court.
  His Honour - That would seem to be your proper course.  It cannot be an answer to this claim.
  The Plaintiff was then examined through the Court Interpreter.
  His Honour - What are you?
  Plaintiff - I am tipao.
  His Honour -Of the place where this land is?
  Plaintiff - No, not near Mr. Clyatt's place.
  His Honour - Who is tipao of that district?
  The Plaintiff, by direction of his Honour, wrote down the name and address of the tipao of the district in which the defendant's land is situated.
  His Honour - I understand that the defendant complains that his fence is destroyed and stolen.
  Plaintiff - Mr. Clyatt never gave any notice to the tipao to take care of his property.
  His Honour - I do not think this is a matter of counter-claim at all.  You admit that you owe the Chinese Government for land-tax, and it is no answer for you to say that some of the Chinese about there pull down your fence.  That is no answer to a claim for taxes.  The order I shall make is that you pay the $49 into Court, and that it remain there nevertheless for one week, so that you can take proceedings against anyone who is responsible for the destruction of your fence.  There is the name and address of the tipao.
  Defendant - May I ask your Honour what course I must pursue?
  Hos Honour - No; I cannot advise you.  You must consult a lawyer, or perhaps the Consul.
  Defendant - Well, it seems I am in a strange position.  I have made a complaint to the Consul, and I have received this letter -------,
  His Honour - I cannot look at it.  You must try and find out against whom you have a counter-claim - or rather a claim; I cannot call it a counter-claim - and proceed against him.
  Defendant - I have a letter from Mr. Scott and he tells me it is clearly the duty of the tipao.
  His Honour - Well, sue the tipao.  I have given you his name and address.
  Defendant - I want to know whether this tipao is really the man.
  His Honour - That is what the plaintiff says.  That is all I know.
  Defendant - The whole case rests upon whether the Chinese Government have any duties towards me or not.
  His Honour - Anyhow you have a duty towards the Chinese Government - to pay this tax, and you must pay it. The money will remain in Court for a week.


North China Herald, 13 June 1884
Shanghai, 9th June, 1884
Before Sir Richard T. Rennie, Chief Justice, and a Jury consisting of Messrs. J. I. Miller, A. C. Westall, A. Algar, W. Cauce, and J. L. Maclean.
  Benjamin David Benjamin surrendered to his recognizances to take his trial on a charge of having defrauded the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. [Not transcribed.]


North China Herald, 27 June 1884
24th June.
Before Sir Richard Temple Rennie, Chief Justice.
  This was a suit to recover the sum of Tls. 5,000, together with interest, on a promissory note made by the defendant in favour of Benjamin David Benjamin, and by him endorsed to the defendants.
[Not transcribed.]
  Mr. Wainewright, after some further argument, said he was not in a position to prove that the intention of the parties, as to the note not being negotiable, was in the knowledge of the bank; and he was afraid he could not carry the case any further.  He therefore consented to judgment for the plaintiff.
  Mr. Dowdall said the interest amounted to Tls. 112.87.
  After some argument as to whether interest ought to be allowed,
  Mr. Wainewright said he was afraid he could say nothing against it.
  Judgment was accordingly entered for the plaintiffs, with interest and costs.

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