Skip to Content

Colonial Cases

Harris and Gresswell v. Brignell [1833]

equitable jurisdiction - ship, title to

Civil Court

Commissioner Moore, 6 February 1833

Source: Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, 9 Feb 1833

[24] Harris and Gresswell v. Brignell. For refusing to give up the Command of the Cutter "Jolly Rambler." Damages £300.

J. Butler on the part of the plaintiffs, stated they had suffered serious injury by the defendants persisting in keeping possession of the Vessel; the plaintiffs having the majority of voices, considered themselves entitled to dispose of the vessel as they wished, and not to be dictated to by the defendant, who presumed upon his having two half shares against the plaintiffs two. A court of equity he (Mr. Butler) was of opinion would give the preference to the majority of voices.

The Commissioner. - In the first place you must prove the mismanagement, I shall then sew whether there is sufficient reason for my interposing. It is not to the interest of either party, to have the power of the Court, of seizing the vessel, exercised, if it can in any way be settled without it. I should recommend you to avoid going to extremities; now, is it not possible that another Master could be agreed upon by all parties. (This conciliatory suggestion, was entertained, and Mr. Dring, who happined to be in the Court was named; he however declined, as there were disputed accounts which would give rise to fresh difficulties when this point was overcome.)

Mr Anderson Junr. was proposed by Mr. Dring; but Mr Scott stated it mattered not who was appointed Master of the Vessel, for the plaintiffs were determined she should not proceed to Sydney, for which port she had already engaged freight.

Mr. Butler said the object of this trial was to shew on which side a court of equity would give 
the priority, whether to the number of voices, or to the largest share holder.

Commissioner. - I have been referring, but have not found any thing decisive upon the subject, if on further reference I still find nothing expressed, I shall decide this case by analogy. It is certainly rather singular, that in this remote comer, the difficulty should first arise.

Mr. Butler. - But Abbot says here "yes" (holding up a volume) Mr Scott (the same) and he says here no! (a laugh) (after a long discussion which occasioned some merriment in the court.)

The Commissioner remarked, that there appeared to be a great deal of acrimony on both sides; he would however advise the parties to weigh the matter well, before they pushed the case into the Admiralty Court; they would find its proceedings very tedious, and expensive. He would adjourn the case until Thursday, to give Mr. Scott time to produce the Register, in the mean time he strongly recommended the parties to come to some arrangement. Adjourned until the following morning at 10 o'clock

( This case it will be seen, by reference to an advertisement in another portion of our paper, was arranged out of Court.)

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