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Colonial Cases

Hay v. American Trading Company, 1897

[libel - debt recovery]


Hay v. American Trading Company

American Trading Company v. Hay

United States Consular Court, Yokohama

Gowey, 20 December 1897

Source: The Japan Times, 21 December 1897



  Yesterday morning proceedings in the action for libel, in which Mr. A. S. Hay claims $10,000 damages from the American Trading Company, were commenced in the United States Consular Court, Yokohama, Mr. J. E. Gowey presiding, and Messrs. Varnum and H. J. Davidson sitting as Assessors. Mr. Litchfield represented the plaintiff, while Mr. Lowder appeared on behalf of the defendant Company. The matter complained of consisted of an advertisement inserted by defendants in the Tokyo engineering paper Kogyo Zasshi, an English translation of which was as follows:

   "Fraudulent Representation of Agency,

   There is a person of the name of A. S. Hay. He was formerly connected with our Company, but in consequence of his dishonest behaviour the connection has been severed (meaning that he had been guilty of dishonesty and had been removed from his position in the American Trading Company in consequence of such dishonesty). Notwithstanding the fact, however, the person in question (meaning the plaintiff) is advertising himself as the agent of the manufacturers of the pumps described on the foregoing page, although he possesses no authority or right to do so (meaning thereby that the plaintiff had not and never had any authority from the Washington Pumping Engine Company to act as their agent). Should he continue the improper conduct in future he will be dealt with accordingly.

AMERICAN TRADING COMPANY, No. 28 Yokohama and No. 17 Kobe."

   The opening speech of Mr. Litchfield occupied the greater part of the morning and on proceedings being resumed after tiffin, the testimony of Mr. Kimura Iwato, editor of the Kogyo Zasshi, was taken, while the plaintiff commenced his evidence, which was not finished when the Court adjourned until 10 a.m. today.


The Japan Times, 24 December 1897


   Proceedings in the action for libel (damages yen 10,000) were still dragging their weary length along in the United States Consular Court yesterday. In the morning sitting the re-examination of the plaintiff was concluded and Messrs. Kobayashi Beika and Sagahige Asahima, the latter the banto employed by the American Trading Company, who sent the advertisement containing the alleged libel to the Kogyo Zasshi, were examined at some length as to the tfue meaning of the ideographs in which it was made public. In the afternoon session, the banto of the American Trading Company who had written the notice, and Mr. Stone, late Agent of the Company,

were examined, and the case was then adjourned again until today.


The Japan Times, 25 December 1897


   Proceedings were continued yesterday (Friday) in the suit brought against the American Trading Company by Mr. A. S. Hay. In the morning Mr. W. S. Stone continued his testimony, while Mr. Clarence Martin gave his, respecting the real meaning of the ideograph sa *(printed) as did Mr. Yokichi Ozawa, the interpreter of the Yokohama District Court. Both these gentlemen stated that the character in question meant false rather than fraudulent or dishonest. In the afternoon Mr. Morse, the President of the Company, gave some testimony relative to the commissions alleged to have been taken by plaintiff, and also to other matters connected with the case, which was then adjourned until Tuesday next, December 28th.


THE JAPAN TIMES, 29 December 1897


   Proceedings in the suit for libel with yen 10,000 damages, brought by Mr. A. S. Hay against the American Trading Company, were resumed in the United States Consular Court, Yokohama, yesterday afternoon.

    The testimony of Mr. Morse was first concluded, and then Mr. J. F. Lowder, Counsel for the defence, commenced his pleading. At the outset he made an onslaught on Mr. Beika Kobayashi, whom he described as "a gentleman rejoicing in a double name - who had not informed them of any qualification he possessed as an expert in the Japanese language, except that he had been adopted into the family of his wife who was a Japanese. The witness had translated fusei as both "dishonest" and "improper" explaining that he did this to avoid tautology. Mr. Lowder quoted both Brinkley and Hepburn to prove that this was incorrect, and then proceeded to criticise witness' translation of the word sa ("fraudulent"). The remainder of this lengthy address went to prove that the plaintiff in the case had been guilty of dishonesty in concealing his taking of commissions from the American Trading Company.  After Mr. Lowder concluded, Mr. Litchfield replied for the plaintiff and concluded at about 4 p.m.

   Mr. Gowey then stated that as the Court had a mass of evidence, both verbal and documentary, to ponder over, he would defer giving judgment until 3 p.m. today.


The Japan Times, 30 December 1897


   Judgment was given in the United States Consular Court, Yokohama, yesterday afternoon (29th) in the action for libel with yen 10,000 damages instituted by Nr. A. S. Hay against the American Trading Company.

   Upon the assembling of the Court, Mr. J. F. Gowey briefly summed up the more salient features of the evidence and stated that the opinion of the Court was that the ideographs translated "fraudulent" and "dishonest" in the complaint had been given a larger and stronger meaning than was justified by Japanese scholars either colloquially or in writing, and they should have been rendered as "false," "improper," or "not  right," so that any Japanese seeing them would receive the impression that the person therein referred to had been falsely representing himself as an agent and doing something things that were improper and not right, After dealing with the position occupied by the plaintiff in the case, the Court was of opinion that he had acted wrongly with regard to the receipt of various commissions and concealing the same from the Company. In conclusion he said:

   "We therefore find that defendant was justified in printing and publishing the advertisement in the Kogyo Zasshi upon which the plaintiff's charge of libel and claim for damages is founded. Judgment is rendered in favour of the defendant with costs of the proceedings to the plaintiff." 


The Japan Times, 16 February 1898


   In the United States Consular Court tomorrow morning, an action will be heard, brought by the American Trading Co. against A. S. Hay, for the recovery of certain moneys belonging to the plaintiff and alleged to be in the possession of the defendant. This case seems to be the aftermath of the recent suit in which A. S. Hay was then plaintiff and the American Trading Co. defendant, which it will be remembered terminated in favour of the latter.


The Japan Times, 17 February 1898


(From our own Correspondent.)

Yokohama, Feb. 16.


The case of the American Trading Company v. A. S. HAY was called in the American Consular Court this morning, before Mr. J. F. Gowey, Consul General.

The Company was represented by Mr. J. F. Lowder, and the defendant by Mr. Litchfield. At the opening of the case it was stated that a consultation would be held in private with a view to a settlement, and a quarter of an hour later the Consul reappeared, when the former stated that it seemed to be necessary that an accounting should be made on both sides. By agreement this accounting would be referred to Mr. O. Keil, who would, he presumed, prepare a statement, to be filed in Court within a reasonable time.  Mr. Keil would be communicated with, and in case of his inability to serve, counsel would be notified. The cause was continued without specifying a date, and with leave to either party to make application for a hearing within a reasonable time. 

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