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Colonial Cases

Chang Ghe Ding v. Ferris, 1899

[employment law]


Chang Ghe Ding v. Ferris

Supreme Court for China and Japan
Hannen CJ, 17 January 1899
Source: North China Herald, 23 January, 1899




Shanghai, 17th January.

Before Sir Nicholas J. Hannen, Chief Justice.


   Frank Frederick Ferris, managing editor of the Chinese newspaper Sinwenpao, appeared to answer a summons directing him to show cause why an order of the Court calling upon him to pay to the plaintiff his former compradore, Tls. 2,130.40, the amount of a judgment obtained against him, together with $250 costs in the case, should not be satisfied.

   Mr. Francis Ellis appeared for the plaintiff and explained the nature of the summons.

   Defendant went into the box and in reply to Mr. Ellis admitted that judgment for the amount specified was given against him on the 6th of December last. He was managing editor of the Sinwenpao but not the proprietor, others being interested in its publication. He had held the position six years, since the paper was started, but had not the least idea what his share was. As regarded his salary he worked the business and took out of it whatever was necessary for him to live on. The monthly accounts in this connection varied, ranging from $50 to $300. The books were kept entirely in Chinese and though he had not them with him, they could be produced for his Lordship's inspection if necessary. Asked as to why it was he did not satisfy the judgment of the Court in this matter witness said he must first of all show how the liability was incurred.

   His Lordship - Not necessarily. You may be asked to do so, but in the meanwhile what Mr. Ellis wants to know is why you don't pay this amount of money you have been ordered to pay, and what means you have of paying it. You are liable to be examined as to how the liability was incurred but at the present we only want to know why you don't pay it.

   Defendant - I am unable to do so on account of the tightness of the market and lots of outstanding accounts, and I ask the Court to give me sufficient time and I will give to the Court's satisfaction the name of a gentleman in Shanghai who will guarantee me.

   His Lordship - What would you be able to do in that way? You say sufficient time. Tell me what time you want and who will guarantee you.

   Defendant - I will get a person satisfactory to your Lordship. I have not his permission to use his name. I ask six months' time.

   Mr. Ellis - I don't wish to appear unreasonable but I have had promises from Mr. Ferris several times. This suit has been going on since August and we delayed taking proceedings because Mr. Ferris repeatedly promised to pay something on account, but I have avoided as far as I could in my client's interest bringing this matter before the Court. If your Lordship is satisfied with the reference he gives I am prepared to abide by it but personally I cannot place any reliance whatever on anything Mr. Ferris says.

   His Lordship - I will adjourn this matter for a week and in the meantime Mr. Ferris can state in writing to me the exact amount he will pay and the name of his guarantor. I of course must submit it to Mr. Ellis for his approval, for I don't know all the inhabitants of Shanghai and it must be for Mr. Ellis to say whether the gentleman is a sufficient guarantee or not. After being submitted to Mr. Ellis should he agree with it then the summons will not go on. If not then the case must come on again. 

   This, Mr. Ferris, is now becoming serious and I must have the name of the gentleman during the course of the present week at the latest.

   The case was then adjourned until Thursday the 25th inst.

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