Skip to Content

Colonial Cases

Speelman v. East Asiatic Co., 1910

[breach of contract]

Speelman v. East Asiatic Co.

Danish Consular Court, Shanghai
Rasschou, March 1910
Source: The Straits Times, 6 April 1910





   The Shanghai Mercury, of March 22, prints the following report:-

   Evidence was heard in the Danish Consular Court this morning in the action at the instance of Mr. Speelman against the East Asiatic Co. for damages for breach of contract with reference to the sale of the Woodthorpe Estate.  Mr. Th. Rasschou heard the case in his judicial capacity, and the plaintiff was represented by Mr. R. N. Macleod and the defendant company by Mr. T. Morgan Phillips.

   W. Meyer was the first witness called.  He stated that he knew the dispute in the action, having brought Mr. Speelman to Mr. Forum in the first place as a likely purchaser of the Woodthorpe Estate.  He was present during all the dealings in the matter, and acted partly for Mr. Speelman.  Letters had passed between the parties and these had been shown to him by Mr. Speelman.  The condition which the defendants imposed, of being allowed to take up half the shares in the company provided the estate was sold, was verbally accepted by witness on January 22.  On that occasion he had a short conversation with Mr. Forum in which they went over the flotation terms and to which Mr. Forum agreed.  He asked the latter to give instructions that a telegram should be sent to Singapore the same afternoon stating the exact terms of flotation and asking the chief manager of the East Asiatic Co, who was there then, whether they wished to exercise the option in regard to one half of the shares.

Flotation Terms.

   The flotation terms referred to were that a company should be formed with a capital of £67,000 sterling at the rate of Tls. 9 per £1, the estate to be sold to the new company for a sum of Tls. 175,000, payable in cash, the vendors to pay all the expenses.  The directors were to be Mr. Forum, Mr. W. A. C. Platt, Mr. Speelman, and witness, and the management of the estate was to be offered to the East Asiatic Co., while Messrs. Anderson, Meyer and co. were to act as general managers and secretaries in Shanghai, where the head office was to be. 

   On Monday, January 24, he telephoned several times to the East Asiatic Co., but was informed that no reply to the telegram had been received and they promised to wire again.  On January 25, a letter was received which gave witness to understand that they refused the option of taking half the shares, and this was soon afterwards verbally confirmed. 

   It was then suggested that the people in Singapore should be wired asking what terms of flotation they would agree to, and with this object witness and Mr. Bagger, of the defendant company, went to see Mr. Forum. Mr. Bagger saw Mr. Forum and returned with the message that the latter did not wish to telegraph as the last wire he had received did not call for a reply.  Witness then suggested that he would send a private telegram to Mr. Anderson, chief manager of the East Asiatic Co. in Singapore, and this was sent.  On January 25, they received a letter stating that the East Asiatic Co.  did not wish to be interested in the estate nor did Mr. Forum wish to be a director, and Mr. Speelman decided to proceed with the matter at his own risk.

   He had already sold the Woodthorpe Estate to a trustee of the company which was to be floated and had had applications for shares and through Anderson Meyer and Co., as agengts received on the 25th, 26th, and 27th applications for 71,000 sharfes.  Arrangements were made with Mr. W. F. Inglis to take the place of Mr. Forum on the board.  The plaintiff was to be paid for his expenses and services in cash, but he applied for 4000 shares which would about represent his profit.  At the present day, he thought these shares would have been worth Tls. 50 each. About the same time the Semambu, Padang, Karan, Semeling, Anglo-Java, Bute and Talang Companies were floated, and the shares of some of these had risen 400 per cent premium, the lowest being over 100 per cent.  The Kota Bahroe Co. floated yesterday had been done at 150 per cent premium.  He considered that the Woodthorpe would have been the best estate offered to Shanghai investors at the price.

   Mr. Phillips said he did not intend to submit the witnesses to cross-examination but would like to know what he considered the best of the companies he had mentioned. (Laughter.)

   The Court then adjourned until Thursday morning.


 See also  The Straits Times, 29 March, 18 April 1910, &c., 

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