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Colonial Cases

Minor cases China 1901-1909

The Register (Adelaide, Australia), 16 November 1901

At an assault case recently heard at the Tientsin British Consular Court, the complainant, a Russian, pleaded in broken English; one witness, a Japanese, volunteered to give his evidence in Russian, but was persuaded to speak in Japanese; and another witness, a Russian, gave his evidence in German.  It is hardly surprising that the consul, after listening two hours to half a dozen languages, dismissed the case.


Straits Times, 13 January 1902
Hayward, the sailor from H.M.S. Daphne, who was charged with murder at Bangkok, has been acquitted by the British Consular Court there.


Los Angeles Herald, 15 April 1902

Soldier Pardoned.

WASHINGTON, April 14. - President Roosevelt today granted a pardon to Alfred Plant, who is serving a four years' sentence in Hong Kong, China, for robbing a Chinese pawnshop while serving as a soldier in China.  Plant and four others were convicted of the offense before a consular court and were sentenced to four years each.  The other three men are being transferred to this country to complete their sentences, but Plant is pardoned because he is too ill to be moved and the officials report that he will die if he continues in prison.


Straits Times, 13 January 1903
In the Consular Court at Shanghai on the 31st ult., two A.B.'s belonging to the P. & O. steamer Ballaarat were sentenced to six months' imprisonment with hard labour for embezzling thirteen balls of opium valued at 6 Pounds, 10s., part of the ship's cargo.


The North-China Herald, 23 April 1903

AT the French Consular Court on Monday morning, three Greeks were charged with being drunk and disorderly in Yangtzepoo Road on the 19th instant and assaulting the Police while in the execution of their duty.  According to the French Code it was necessary that the men should be summoned and have three clear days' notice, so the defendants were released and summonses were issued accordingly.  The case will therefore come on for hearing later in the week.


Los Angeles Herald, 24 October 1903


Diplomats Consign Them to Mixed Court.

   SHANGHAI, Oct. 23. - The diplomats at Peking have unanimously decided that the Supao prisoners must be promptly tried by the mixed court here.

   The Supao is a journal published at Shanghai, a treaty port, by a number of young "literati." They printed some articles strongly denouncing the Manchu rulers of China as the hereditary rulers of the nation.  The matter attracted the attention of the Chinese authorities, and the consular body of Shanghai was approached by the taotai of that city with a view to the apprehension of the offending reformers.  It was then agreed between the Tao Tai and the consuls that the journalists should be put under arrest and tried by the mixed court, and that if found guilty they should undergo punishment in the foreign settlement.

   The arrest of the reformers which followed was made under this express understanding, but while the case was pending before the mixed court the imperial government at Peking virtually disavowed the Shanghai tao tai's compact with the consuls and demanded the surrender of the prisoners.  The question was thus transferred from the Shanghai consults to the foreign ministers at Peking.


The Times, 30 January 1904

The Canadian Pacific Railway Company has given notice of appeal to the Privy Council against the decision of H.M. Consular Court at Shanghai, holding the company's steamer Empress of India solely to blame for the loss by collision of the Chinese cruiser Quang-tai in August last.  The value of the Qyang-tai, with her arms and ammunition, was put by the Chinese Government at £90,000, and the insured value of the Empress of India is £150, 000.  The underwriters of the latter vessel cover the full collision liability, instead of the customary three-fourths, but, as the action is taking place in the British Courts, the statutory limit of £8 a ton applies. The Empress of India's gross tonnage is 5,034, and her extreme liability, if ultimately found at fault, is therefore £47, 472, as against the Quang-tai's value of £90,000.


San Francisco Call, 14 May 1905

Circuit Court Takes Case.

United States Circuit Judge Morrow decided yesterday that his court had jurisdiction in cases of appeal from the American consular courts of China and Japan.  The decision was rendered in the matter of the appeal of the American-Chinese Development Company from the judgment of American Consul John Goodnow awarding W. Porter Boyd $13,000 damages for services rendered the corporation.


Examiner (Launceston, Australia), 2 November 1906

Two other events which are termed minor also happened to-day in this "Paris of the East," as Shanghai is called. ... A tragedy occurred in the evening to close the eventful September 1.  Two men were in love with one girl.  One of the men deliberately shot the other through the brain, neck, and heart, and then went home, reloaded his revolver, and visited the home of the girl and shot her.  The murderer was arrested that night - the girl died next morning.


The Register (Adelaide, Australia), 30 January 1907

Henry Basset of Adelaide, impresario, appeared before the Insolvency Court on Tuesday morning on the second hearing. ...


When he left Singapore for Java his property was equal to between £400 and £425.  If the present suit had not been pressed he could have recovered £5,000, exclusive of costs, from an arbitration award in Shanghai.  He estimated that it would cost him 1,500 taels to being suit in the British Consular Court for this money, which had been accumulating, and on which he had been drawing annually. ...


Straits Times, 21 May 1907
  It is credibly reported that the Tientsin Native Court has been empowered to arrest criminals within the Tientsin Settlement without requiring to secure a Consular warrant.


The Straits Times, 5 June 1907


Guide for young men coming from home.

   Judgment has been given in the Supreme Court at Shanghai in the Parnell & Paget v. E. J. Berkeley case brought up from the consular Court of Canton.

  The plaintiffs asked for an injunction to prohibit the defendant, who was formerly in their employ, from carrying on the trade of an architect in Canton.  Accoutring to the terms of his agreement with them he was restricted from following his calling within 500 miles of their place of business in canton, but at its expiration, Mr. Berkeley set up for himself right in Shameen, where the offices of Messrs. Parnell and Paget are situated.

   Sir Havilland de Saumarez has given his decision in writing to that this case may be taken as a test and a decided law made to meet similar future applications and which will also help to guide young men at home when they enter into an agreement to serve with foreign firms in China.  As the Judge pointed out, Shameen is not a big place and the fact of the defendant starting in opposition to his former employers would, if the young man were possessed of smartness, inevitably occasion them much financial loss, and, therefore, he upheld the particular clause in dispute, provided the words "within 500 miles of the office of Parnell and Paget" were omitted.

   To start a business in the very same place as the firm whose service you have left, says the China Mail, is very different from going to a new district and making headway for yourself, and now the British Supreme Court in Shanghai has decided that British firms have no right to restrict a man with regard to a large area although they may protect themselves in one particular case, we may have fewer of these cases which always call forth fierce discussions on both sides.


The Straits Times, 19 February 1908



   In the case of W. Heck v. Messrs. Arnhold, Karberg and Company, which was heard lately at the German Consular Court, at Shanghai, before Mr. Vice-Consul Heintze, judgment for the defendants has been delivered in the following terms:-

   The defendants have dismissed the plaintiff before the expiration of his three years;' engagement and refuse to pay his salary after the time of his dismissal.  They state their right so to dismiss him on the grounds that the plaintiff has refused to perform his obligations, namely, the work of attending to telegrams of the greatest importance.  But the plaintiff declares that by his engagement he was only employed as stenographer and typist.  But as he himself has shown, the most important part of his work was telegrams, and it having been proved that he had never once mentioned during the fifteen months during which  hew had performed these duties that he was not obliged to do this work, the plain tiff is left with no standing.

   Regarding his refusal to work after five o'clock, his Honour states that when such refusal is persisted in, the dismissal is justified.  The plaintiff in his correspondence with the defendants disputes the principle that it is customary to work after five and holds that by his agreement he is not bound to do so.  In pursuance of this he discontinued his work although there were important matters to attend to, on three occasions in October.  His perseverance in his refusal to work after five o'clock cannot leave a doubt that the same thing may happen in the future.  Therefore judgment is given for the defendants with costs.


The Straits Times, 16 June 1908

   Mr. O. G. Potier, the Portuguese Consul-General at Shanghai, has instituted an action for libel in the French Consular Court, against the proprietor of the Shanghai Mirror newspaper.  The paper descried the Consul as an ass.


The Advertiser (Adelaide, Australia), 23 October 1909

W. Butler Wright, the late chief accountant of the Canton-Kowloon railway, who was arrested in Shanghai and extradited to Canton on a charge of embezzling, has been committed to stand trial before the British Consular Court of Canton.  The amounts specified in the charges total $3,000 dollars.

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