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Colonial Cases

In re Camajee 1889


In re Camajee

Mixed Court, Shanghai
Tsai and Carles, 12 June 1889
Source: North China Herald, 15 June 1889

Shanghai, 12th June.
Before Mr. Tsai, Chinese Magistrate and Mr. W. R. Carles, British Assessor.
  This was an adjourned case in which the plaintiff, the Administrator of the estate of the late D. N. Camajee, claimed Tls. 143,738, money lent.
  Mr. Wilkinson appeared for the plaintiff and Mr. Drummond for the defendant.
  Mr. Wilkinson said he had, since the previous hearing, furnished the defendant with copies of the accounts as requested.
  The petition of the plaintiff is as follows:-
- The plaintiff of Nowrojee Bomanjee Gandevia, a British subject and medical practitioner and the representative of Dorabjee Nosserwanjee Camajee, a British subject, late of Shanghai, deceased.
- The defendant is a Chinese subject and was for a long time during the lifetime of the said Dorabjee Nosserwanjee Camajee the compradore of the said Dorabjee Nosserwanjee Camajee.
- The defendant was indebted to the said Dorabjee Nosserwanjee Camajee in the sum of Tls. 143.738 for money lent by the said Dorabjee Nosserwanjee Camajee to the defendant and for money paid by the said Dorabjee Nosserwanjee Camajee to the defendant at his request, and for money received by the defendant for the use of the said Dorabjee Nosserwanjee Camajee and for money found to be due from the defendant to the said Dorabjee Nosserwanjee Camajee on account between them.
- The defendant has not paid the said sum of Tls. 143,736 or any part thereof.
- The plaintiff as such personal representative as aforesaid claims from the defendant the said sum of Tls. 143,736 with interest.
The plaintiff therefore prays:-
- That an account be taken of what remains due from the defendant to the estate of the said Dorabjee Nosserwanjee Camajee.
- That the defendant may be decreed to pay to the plaintiff the sum of Tls. 143,736 or such other sum as may be found due from the defendant to the estate of the said Dorabjee Nosserwanjee Camajee and that the plaintiff may have such further or other relief as the nature of the case may require.
  Mr. Drummond asked on what point the evidence was to be given.  He submitted that certain allegations in the petition must be proved first, because the defendant denied that he ever was in the employ of the late firm for a single hour.  He said that it must first be proved how the defendant came into the suit at all.  There were four different compradores, and Pau Yuen-chung's name was not mentioned in the statements furnished.
  Mr. Wilkinson explained the statements furnished to the defendant were not exact translations of the book but as he had the books with him, they could be referred to.
  The plaintiff was then called and said:- I came to Shanghai in 1886 after the death of the younger Camajee.  On looking over a statement by the younger Camajee of the property of the elder Camajee as furnished to the British Court, I found that th sum of Tls. 200,000 was due by a Chinaman to the estate.  I found a safe belonging to the deceased, and I had it opened and found these books (produced) in it.  I did not exactly find this amount due by Pau Yuen-chong, but I found an account which with interest amounted to about Tls. 200,000 in the name of Ehing-a-sak.  I found this was the defendant.  I made enquiries for the defendant, but did not find him in Shanghai.  He afterwards returned to Shanghai. We had some land in Shanghai and had lost the title deeds. So, we advertised and Pau Yuen-chong came forward and said he had the deeds.  That is how I came to find him.  The question of the title deeds has been settled; he has paid the Tls. 2,650, and I have given him the deeds.  I asked him for the Tls. 200,000 at the first interview in 1886, but he cried and said he did not have the money.  I did not sue him in that year because I thought he was a pauper and had no money to pay p.  I have had reason to change my mind since with regard to his means.  I saw him two or three times in 1886 and I took the accounts (shown) from ledgers.  These were from 1860 to 1868 except for 1862 and 3; the journals were for 1868 to 1873; cash books, 1869, 70. 71 and 73; cheque book counterfoils from 26th February 1866 to 28th June 1871, and some others.  I have looked for the missing books, but have not been able to find them. I have applied to the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank for the original cheques, but was informed that all cheques are usually destroyed except for the last six or seven years.
  I have compared the entries in the ledgers with the blocks in cheque books.  The entries in the counterfoils are in the name of Pau Yuen-chong, while those in the ledgers are in the name of Ehing A-sak. The accounts have been checked by Mr. Pestonjee, and I have compared the entries in the ledgers with those in the journals and cash-books, such as I have, and the entries agree. In the account furnished the British Court, the amount of Tls. 30,000 is given as the estimate of what the claim on the Chinaman is worth.   
  The younger Camajee was living with his father for fifteen years before his father's death.  Some cheques were in the younger Camajee's handwriting.  I met the younger Camajee in India and often heard him mention the name of Pau Yuen-chong as the old Shroff.  I did not come to Shanghai till after his death.  There is no trace in all the books of this money having been repaid.  I have no reason to suppose that any portion of it has been repaid.
  By Mr. Drummond - The entries in the ledger are in the name of Ehing A-sak, and on nth counterfoils of the cheque books the name is Pau Yuen-chong.
  Mr. Drummond asked the plaintiff to point out the items which made up the Tls. 200,000, and the plaintiff was engaged for a considerable time doing so.
  Continuing, plaintiff said - In the bank Pass Brook there are entries in the name of Pau Yuen-chong, but in the one produced I cannot find the name.  I have found in the counterfoils of the books the name of Pau Yuen-chong coupled with the word "Shroff." I cannot find this at the moment and I do not remember in which it appeared.  The word "Shroff" is the same in Gujerati that it is in English.  I found no letters to or from the elder Camajee, and I found no books or other documents except those produced in Court.  I never saw the younger Camajee in China or in England. He was in Bombay for two years and I saw him constantly in 1868.  I saw him for a year or more.  I saw him again in Bombay from September 1885 to April 1886.  He generally called the Shroff A-sak Masak, but I do not know what the last word means.  I understood that Pau Yuen-chong was an old friend of his father.  I never saw the elder Camajee. I did not hear the younger Camajee speak of a claim he had against A-sak or Pau Yuen-chong.  The elder Camajee died in 1882.  The younger Camajee was here when his father died.  He was very reticent about his father's affairs, and never said anything to me about a claim against Pau Yuen-chong.  He was about 43 years of age when he died in Shanghai.   
  Some entries appear in some of the correspondence of the younger Camajee referring to the claim against Pau Yuen-chong, but that has been sent to Bombay. I do not remember what name it was or the amount.  There was one entry in a book.  This book I sent to Bombay in July 1887.  I have a lot of books belonging to the younger Camajee.  They are in Bombay.  I came here in 1886 to take out probate on the will of the younger Camajee.  The Court had possession of the books of the estate.  I found in the inventory made by the younger Camajee a reference to this claim and it was signed by the younger Camajee.
  The magistrate remarked that even in this document the name of Pau Yuen-chong did not appear.
  Witness continued - I did not get probate till April 1887.  I began to take steps in reference to this claim before July 1887.  I arrived here in October 1886.  The books are in Gujerati which I read and understand.  I came here for the purpose of settling up the estate, and I commenced to do so soon after I arrived.  I took out probate in April 1887 and did nothing with regard to the claim before this date.  I made out an inventory of the younger Camajee's estate.  I do not think there is any entry in this inventory referring to a claim against Pau Yuen-chong.   At the time I made out this inventory I had the inventory made out by the younger Camajee, and I had generally gone through the books before taking out the probate.
  The case was adjourned till Monday at 2 p.m.

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