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Colonial Cases

Woh Queh-Chan v. Hall, 1899

[debt recovery]


Woh Queh-Chan v. Hall

Supreme Court for China and Japan
Hannen CJ, 23 May 1899
Source: North China Herald, 29 May 1899




Shanghai, 23rd May

Before Sir Nicholas J. Hannen, Chief Justice.


   This was a claim by Woh Queh-chan, a Chinese woman, for Tls. 500 alleged to have been lent to the defendant, H. E. Hall, a butcher and dairyman, in February 1897, with interest at 10 per cent per annum. Mr. H. R. Parkes appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr. F. Ellis (Messrs. Browett & Ellis) for the defendant.

   Mr. Parkes, in opening the plaintiff's case, said his client for some sixteen years had been a friend of a woman, now deceased, named Chu Tsay-tze, who had lived for many years until her death with Mr. Hall and taken a prominent part in managing his business.  In the month of February 1897, Chu Tsay-tze came to her and asked her to lend Tls. 500 as Mr. Hall was being pressed by his creditors.  The plaintiff then went and borrowed the money from the compradore of the China and Japan Trading Company, and handed the sum, in a native bank order, over to Chu Tsay-tze, who passed it on to Mr. hall who was in the room at the time. There were two other witnesses present, a shroff and a man who delivered milk, both in the employ of Mr. Hall, who could confirm the transaction. A Chinese pass-book was made out when the money was handed over, and the entry of the transaction was stamped with Mr. Hall's Chinese "chop," "Loong-sing." The money was advanced to Chu Tsay-tze entirely for Mr. Hall's business purposes, but he had declined to repay it.

  The plaintiff was called and bore out her Counsel's statement. She said he husband was employed by the China and Japan Trading Company's compradore and that was the reason she asked him for the loan. He knew her well and did not ask for a receipt or I.O.U. After Chu Tsay-tze's death, when she asked Mr. Hall for the money he declined to pay, and "spoke bad words." When she threatened legal proceedings a man who had been in Mr. Hall's employ for many years came to her and said his master was willing to pay.

   His Lordship observed that Mr. Hall's servants could not be taken to be his agents going about offering to compromise suits.

   In cross-examination, the plaintiff said Chu Tsay-tze lived with Mr. Hall, and they carried on the business together. Practically everything passed through her hands.

   Chau Fu-shou, compradore to the China and Japan Trading Company, said he lent the plaintiff Tls. 500 over two years ago. He did not take an acknowledgment as it was a short loan.

   This closed the plaintiff's case.

   Mr. Ellis, for the defendant, gave a most emphatic denial to the money ever having been advanced to him, whilst it had not been proved that Chu Tsay-tze was in any way authorised to act as his agent.

  Mr. Hall said he only knew the plaintiff by sight. He positively denied having received the Tls. 500, and had never heard Chu Tsay-tze had borrowed that amount from the plaintiff. The first time he saw the alleged Chinese pass-book in which the loan was recorded was at the French Mixed Court, where the plaintiff was charged with trespassing on his premises one night and creating a great disturbance in the house saying that his daughter's mother owed her (the plaintiff) Tls. 500. She was very violent, and swore, and he eventually called the police and had her locked up.

   Cross-examined, the defendant declared that the "Loong-sing" chop on the pass book was a forgery, and not his. The name of his hong was "Loong-sing-mo-e-sung." He spoke Chinese as well as any native, and therefore had no need to employ Chu Tsay-tze as a go-between in his business. He denied that she conducted his business for him. She had no authority to receive money on his behalf, and never mentioned anything about the alleged loan.

   A shroff and the milk deliverer, both in Mr. Hall's service for several years, who were stated by the plaintiff as being able to confirm her case, were next examined. They denied emphatically any knowledge of the transaction. The shroff said the chop on the pass-book was not Mr. Hall's and he produced a copy of the correct chop.

   His Lordship, in giving his decision, said the judgment must be for the defendant. In her petition the plaintiff said the loan could be proved by two witnesses; when they were called by the defendant they entirely denied the story. There was only the plaintiff's evidence that the loan was made to anybody at all, and inasmuch as she was contradicted on the main issue by the people she said would be able to testify in her favour, he did not think they could consider she had proved anything which could be taken to fix the liability upon M r. Hall. That the loan was made was possible, but that it was handed over to Mr. Hall he (His Lordship) did not believe. At any rate the plaintiff had not made out her case, and there must be judgment for the defendant, with costs.

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