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Colonial Cases

Kum Soo v. Shibbeth, 1916

[trespass - opium]

Kum Soo v. Shibbeth

Supreme Court of China and Japan
Source: China Heritage Quarterly, June/September 2012


[From The China Critic, 1935.]


   It may be noted further that cases similar to the one mentioned have occurred before. For example, in 1916, a claim was brought in the British Supreme Court in Shanghai by one Kum Soo against one Shibbeth. The evidence in the case shows that Shibbeth, who was then working for an Opium Combine and was commissioned by the latter to search for 'illegitimate' opium, had forced entry intro Kum Soo's home with the aid of two policemen, and discovered opium there, which was alleged to have been bought through illegitimate channels. The plaintiff, however, denied the charge that the opium had been bought illegitimately, and furthermore asserted that as his father was born in British territory, he was himself therefore a British subject, entitled to the protection of British authorities. The Judge in the case, in his charge to the jury, especially remarked upon the fact that the search warrant was issued by the Mixed Court under the assumption that Kum Soo was a Chinese citizen; and he stressed the point also that if an incident like that were allowed to pass, any one would be able to avoid liability for damage on unlawful entry into British domiciles on the plea that he was acting on a warrant issued by a Chinese Court. The jury, consequently, brought a heavy verdict against the defendant of 20,000 taels; and for a time afterwards, there was even talk of bringing action not only against the Municipal Police, but also the Chinese Magistrate, who had issued the warrant.

[Extract from Shanghai case of Kumabe, 1935.]

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