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Colonial Cases

Neeson v. Norman, 1888


Neeson v. Norman

Supreme Court for China and Japan

Mowat ACJ, July-August 1888

Source: North China Herald, 27 July 1888

Shanghai, 24st July 1888
Before R. A. Mowat, Esq., Acting Chief Justice, and J. C. Hall, Esq., Acting Assistant Judge.
  The rehearing of this case commenced yesterday morning, and the argument of Mr. H. S. Wilkinson who appeared for Mr. Neeson was resumed this morning concluding early in the afternoon.
  No evidence was taken beyond that already given in the lower Court,
  The learned Counsel for the plaintiff opening the case said that it had already been heard before the Acting Assistant Judge.  The summons was for a claim of $99.99 for pilotage, but as the pilot did not bring the ship up, the case was rather in the nature of an action for breach of contract in not allowing the plaintiff to pilot the ship Glenfruin.  .  .  .   Judgment was reserved.

Source: North China Herald, 4 August 1888

Shanghai, 2nd August, 1888
Before R. A. Mowat, Esq., Acting Chief Justice, and J. C. Hall, Acting Assistant Judge.
  The Acting Assistant judge in delivering the judgment of the Court, said:-
  This is a re-hearing of a case which was tried by me on the 6h ultimo.  The plaintiff is a licensed Shanghai pilot; the defendant is Master of the s.s. Glenfruin.  The claim was for damages for breach of an alleged contract by the defendant to engage the services of the plaintiff.  The defence was that no such contract was ever made. The material facts were as follows .  .  .  
  The original judgment is therefore affirmed.
  The Acting Chief Justice said:- I desire to add a few words to the judgment that has just been read.  I am satisfied that both parties acted in effect good faith.  The plaintiff believed his signals were replied to, and it was not till he got near the steamer and saw that the red light was up, that the possibility of his being mistaken entered his mind.  The captain, on the other hand, acted also with complete good faith. He made no signals till he got near enough for the red light to be seen from the pilot-boat, and then he ordered that light to be hoisted.
  If after doing that and seeing no answering red light from the pilot-boat, he waited, it was only because by that time a small boat was pointed to him as having put off from the pilot-boat, and he may have presumed that after all Brand was in the boat, for his signal for Brand was then up.  When he learns in reply to his hail that it is not Brand, he then goes ahead.  I do not for one moment believe the theory set up by the plaintiff that the Captain was merely attempting to get information as to the whereabouts of Brand. He asked the plaintiff "in a harsh voice," and the plaintiff says, "Why did you not answer my hail?" That is more the manner of a man who is annoyed at having been delayed, than of one who had been simply seeking information.  As I understand the captain's position, it was a matter of very little importance indeed to him whether he found Brand or not, for he had Campbell on board, whose services he meant to make use of, if need be - as in fact he did make use of them.

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