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Colonial Cases

Bieber v. Lembke, 1891


Bieber v. Lembke

German Consular Court, Shanghai
23 September 1891
Source: North China Herald, 25 September, 1891

Shanghai, 23rd September.
Before Messrs. M. von Loehr, Vice-Consul, and Messrs. Rinkel and Meyerink, Assessors.
  These were two actions brought by Theodor Bieber, merchant, of Hamburg, against Justus P. Lembke. Merchant, of Shanghai. In the first suit the amount claimed was $26,661.31, alleged to be due to plaintiff in connection with his former partnership with defendant. The second action was for 10,751 marks, for loss of time and expenses of journey from Germany to Shanghai and back, etc., in consequence of the first action.
  Mr. H. S. Wilkinson appeared for the defendant; plaintiff conducted his own case.
  Plaintiff in his petition stated that he was for a long time partner in the firm of Justus Lembke and Co.  at Shanghai, Hongkong and Hamburg. Defendant was another partner, and Mr. Paul Ehlers was sleeping partner. Plaintiff became a partner in 1880, and in 1881 he opened the Shanghai branch of the firm, where he remained in charge until May, 1889, when he left China.
  On May 7, 1889, the parties entered into an agreement of separation. According to this agreement plaintiff made up his accounts as between defendant and himself, the result being a balance of $26,666.31 due by defendant. The correctness of this amount, plaintiff stated, could be proved by the firm's books.
  Defendant's answer was in substance that plaintiff wired to him at Hongkong in April. 1889, that he had a prospect of getting a better situation and that he wished to leave the firm before the time stated in the partnership agreement. Before any arrangement was arrived at for this, plaintiff suddenly left China, throwing all the business of the firm on Mr. Lembke's shoulders. On the way home plaintiff called on defendant at Hongkong, and defendant, at plaintiff's urgent solicitation, allowed him to leave the firm at once, but only in consideration of Mr. Paul Ehlers being appointed arbitrator of any differences which might arise in settling accounts. Plaintiff having subsequently rejected this arbitration, which defendant always insisted upon as a sine qua non, defendant contended that he was no longer bound by the contract of May 7, 1889, the date of the interview in Hongkong, and consequently that this suit, which was founded upon that contract, was groundless.
  The Court was chiefly occupied with the reading of the pleadings, which were very voluminous, and discussions thereon. No evidence was taken, and the  case was ultimately adjourned till Saturday next.

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