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During the week we hare bad two very salient examples of the proverbial uncertainties of the law. The first is that of a civil action tried the other day m Christen urch before a jury m connection with a dispute relating to the Cafe de Paris, the particulars of which are thus summarised by one of our city contemporaries : — Mr Arenas, formerly proprietor of the Cafe de Paris m Gashel street, some time ago leased his premises to Mr William Savage, Mr Arenas, believing that he bad a good tenant, •ad having caused to be inserted m his lease the necessary covenants for keeping the cafe as a going concern, left for Melbourne. In his absence business does not appear to have prospered with Mr Savage. The restaurant portion of the business was shut up, and indeed the whole trade of the establishment, with the exception of a limited bar business, was dispersed. This state of affairs .necessitated the return pf Mr Arenas to New Zealand. To obtain compensation for the loss which he sustained through his lessee's default, he brought an action for £1000 against Mr Savage. The case came on for trial before Mr Justice Denniston and a jury of twelve. On behalf of the plaintiff evidence was given of the manner m which the business of the cafe had been ruined. in the absence of Mr Arenas and m opposition to the covenants made by Mr Savage. The defendant did not put m an appearance, and no attempt was made to deny the plaintiff's version of the affair. After this recital one would naturally expect to find it added that v the jury found for the plaintiff for the amount claimed,' 1 but not so. The sapient twelve took an hour to consider their verdict, and returned into Court with a verdiot for plaintiff, damages one farthing ! A more extraordinary result of that valued British institution trial by jury was never recorded. The second instance is telegraphed from Oamaru. There a few days ago a well-known auctioneer, land, estate, and financial agent, Mr William Christie, went through his examination m bankruptcy before His Honor Judge Ward, who decided that the bankrupt had defrauded the Colonial Investment Company by his dealings with a certain security and thereupon sentenced him to four months' imprisonment with hard labor. There it might have been sapposed the matter had ended, but now comes the news by wire that owing to the | nsertion by a clerical error of the word I « March " instead of the word " April " the warrant of commitment is void or voidable, and that a writ of habeas corpus is to be applied for m order to the releaie of Christie from alleged illegal incarceration. Now we don't want-to express any opinion at all as to whether Christie deserved his sentence— we leave that to the Judge— but assuming as we of course do that he was rightfully sentenced, then it is monstrous that clerical errors such as this should be permitted to interfere with the course of justice. The public should certainly be informed who is responsible for the blander, and it should be made perfectly plain that it was not one of the sort which occasionally happen as suspicious people suppose "accidentally on purpose." Surely our public officials must be getting into a slip-shod way of doing business. It was only the other day that "overwrought Ministers" blundered about the numbers of certain runs, and now we have a judicial blunder for which, according to precedent, the plea of "overwrought officialdom" may be expected to be pat m. If bo, and the plea is a good one, the sooner the colony increases the staff of its public servants the better, for if the public work is to be done 4t all itdg certainly quite yrorffc Wbjle to bave it well dojw, *

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2104, 11 April 1889

Word Count

THE UNCERTAINTIES OF THE LAW. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2104, 11 April 1889