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Colonial Cases

Dong Ta Kee v. Hall, 1898

[sale of goods]


Dong Ta Kee v. Hall

Supreme Court for China and Japan
Hannen CJ, December 1898
Source: North China Herald, 19 December, 1898



Shanghai, 11th December.

Before Sir Nicholas J. Hannen, Chief Justice.


   In this case the plaintiff, a wholesale cattle dealer, at Pahsienjao, sued the defendant, a well-known butcher and provision merchant, for the recovery of $3,112 alleged to be due in respect of cattle purchased from him. Mr. H. P. Wilkinson appeared for the plaintiff, while the defendant who conducted his own case put in an answer denying that he had neither ordered or received any livestock from the plaintiff.

   The plaintiff, cautioned, said he was a cattle dealer and had carried on the business for the last thirty years. Her was introduced to Mr. Hall by a Chinese who brought defendant to witness' place at Pahsienjao.  Defendant wanted to commence business with him and they had a number of dealings in livestock. At first the sales were small and he was treated very civility and kindly by the defendant. The monthly balances were generally settled in cash; but last year he received one or two cheques on the Hongkong and Shanghai bank. The card produced with the defendant's name and address was given to him by Mr. Hall three years ago.  Latterly Mr. Hall did not settle up completely each month but paid something in respect thereof which accounted for the size of the claim. He kept his cattle at Pahsienjao and Mr. Hall who was an experienced man came and chose what stock he required. Mr. Hall never told him that it was not his own business or that he was acting as an agent. When witness went to Mr. Hall's establishment, he saw several people including a Chinese lady who was addressed as Mrs. Hall, and a number of Chinese girls apparently adopted children.

   Criss-examined - He had done business with Mr. Hall since 1893 and from 1894 to November 5th last, continually. He had received Hongkong and Shanghai Bank cheques which had been remitted from Japan to Mr. Hall for cattle witness had [told] him. He presented his bills in Chinese to Mr. Hall who in turn passed them to his native accountant. He knew defendant was ill from July to December 1896, but [then?] he was able to attend to his business to some extent. Mr. Hall however took medicine when he was well. (Laughter,) He had official authority to deal in cattle.

   An assistant in the employ of the plaintiff produced the accounts relating to the various transactions between the parties, and a coolie gave evidence as to driving cattle from the plaintiff to defendant's premises.

   Mr. Hall, who was s worn, said he had a contract with a native woman to supply him with carcases of animals and the book specified were in accordance with the contract. He had never had any dealings with plaintiff, nor had he at any time communicated to him the existence of such a contract. Previous to contracting with the woman he had his own man to purchase cattle, - a cattle expert. He had a contract (produced) to be furnished with the best meat in the market. To make sure that he was being served with the best he frequently went round the markets and cattleman's premises. He could not say that he had never been to the defendant's place for it was a common thing for him to go visiting premises of this kind. He did it more out of inquisitiveness than anything else. If the plaintiff supplied meat to this woman which subsequently came into his hands he was not aware of it. His contract with her was to bring carcases and livestock. He was (witness added in cross-examination) a cattle dealer but he only bought livestock for shipment or perhaps a Christmas beast to feed for a special occasion. The woman with whom the contract was made rented a portion of his premises. He believed she was dead. Her heirs were looking after her estate and he might mention that he had a claim against them. In conclusion he denied having paid the plaintiff any money or having had any transactions with him in any manner or form. As the name of his accountant, or who was stared to be his accountant, had been mentioned he should like to all him as a witness.

   His Lordship accordingly adjourned the case till today to admit of the man being called.

17th December.

This case adjourned from the previous day to enable the defendant to call witnesses was resumed.

   Dr. E. Blanc deposed to having attended the defendant from the 17th of September,1896, until the 8th of December following, during which time he was confined to his room. He did not think during that period Mr. Hall was able to get about or attend to his business. 

   Cross-examined by Mr. Wilkinson - He might have got about after December.

   A coolie in Mr. Hall's employ who had been referred to by the plaintiff as taking delivery of certain cattle on his master's behalf was called and denied the truth of the statement.  The cards produced with Mr. Hall's name and address on were given to the country people at the request of the woman with whom he had contracted to be supplied with carcases, to facilitate their passing the police and market inspector, on entering the settlement, and also to prevent the coolies being molested on the way to the Municipal sheds.

   By Mr. Wilkinson - Witness said that the translation of the Chinese was to the effect that the cattle belonged to Mr. Hall.

   By His Lordship - He gave a similar card to plaintiff's driver.

   By Mr. Wilkinson - He had never settled accounts with the plaintiff. The cattle were delivered to the Chinese lady who resold them to Mr. Hall. The woman lived next door to Mr. Hall but had no separate yard to receive the cattle which on arrival were put into Mr. Hall's yard. He had heard of Ah-Liu and Chung Kuei-kee but did not know whether Mr. Hall had taken any proceedings in the Mixed Court in regard to the last named. He had not made up any accounts in the matter. He did not address this woman as Mrs. Hall but as "Missis." He could not say who made up her accounts. The card given to the plaintiff in 1893 announced in Chinese that any country people having cattle to sell should bring them to Mr. Hall.

   Plaintiff was recalled to prove a sketch map produced of the defendant's property.

   The defendant and Mr. Wilkinson briefly addressed the Court after which

   His Lordship gave judgment, and said he did not know and did not intend to come to any conclusion as to the state of mind of the defendant. He did not know but what defendant might feel they thought he had a contract with this woman which entirely relieved him from the responsibility of the cattle, but there could be no doubt that the plaintiff was under the impression that he was dealing with the defendant.

   The evidence went to show that the existence of such a contract was not published to the world and there was testimony that the plaintiff had been to the defendant's premises and received payment  whilst the defendant had by his own words visited the plaintiff's premises whether out of curiosity or not. 

   Judgment would be given for the plaintiff for the full amount claimed with costs.

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