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THE PAWNBROKERS ACT.

At the Police Court this morning, before Mr Carew, R.M., and Messrs Hutchison and Logan, Justices, the case was heard in wbioh Thomas Nisbet Wilson applied for an order requiring Abraham Myers to deliver up a watch unlawfully pledged with him. Mr Hajrgitt appeared for the prosecutor, Sir R. Stout for accused.

Mr Haggitt said that there was little in dispute as to the facts, which were heard on Tuesday last by Messrs Hutchison and Logan. The case was pretty freely reported in the 'Daily Times,' and both sides were to-day willing that the Bench should look at that report as a statement of the facts. The question in dispute was mainly one of law: whether because an article has been produced as an exhibit in a case before Justices on a preliminary investigation for an indictable offence the owner of that article is bound to leave it in possession of the person who produced it or in the possession of the policeman into whose hands it came in the course of investigation, and whether the owner is entitled to remedy by the recovery of the article. Sir R, Stout said that that was not the point. He said that there were three points involved. First, in whose possession was the watch ? He (Sir R. Stout) said it was in possession of the police. Second, it passed into the hands of the pawnbroker by the opeiation of law. Third, that t a watch was an exhibit in a case in the Supreme Court.

Mr Haggitt said that that was his learned friend's view of the case, but it did not alter his (Mr Haggitt's) contention in the slightest degree. Counsel stated the facts of the case, and proceeded to say that the main question was this: Did the fact of Wilson's watch being stolen in any way alter his right to it ? That the watch was Wilson's property was admitted. Sir B. Stout: I say that is to be determined by the Supreme Court. Mr Haggitt said that it was sworn, »nd the evidence was uncontradicted, that it was Wilson's property, and the sole evidence before the Bench was to that effect. The question then was whether the fact of there being a charge of larceny as a bailee now pending affected Wilson's pioperty in the article; that was to say, whether the fact of the article being stolen affected Wilson's possession of it. The fact of a man's property being stolen did not in any way alter his right to the property, and, therefore, his right to possession. His second point was that, if this had been a civil action to recover this article or its valne, the plaintiff would clearly and undoubtedly be entitled to recover. Sir ft. Stout: Not from ua.

Mr Haggitt said that he would. Mr Carew: Is not a pawnbroker in a better position than an ordinary person? If any ordinary person is found in possession of stolen goods he haß to give them up; but under the Act the Court may order compensation to a pawnbroker. Mr Haggitt urged that there could be no reason for ordering compensation against plaintiff in this case, because he had omitted nothing that it was necessary for him to do —he had not even been guilty of negligence in not calling for his watch. Mr Haggitt cited cases in support of his argument, and proceeded to say that in all the cases in the books the pretence was that there could be no suit for the recovery of the chattels because the thief had not been sued for the theft—that was, that a nun must sink his private rights and assist the criminal law in the first place. And how could the reverse of that be set up and it be said that because a man performed his publio duty he was therefore deprived of his right to recovery. That was an absurd contention. A man was entitled to possession of his property unless some law deprived him of that right, and he (Mr Haagitt) knew of no law that did so. Sir R. Stout said that the first point to bo decided before his friend's argument could be of any avail was this: In whose possession is the watch ? Mr Haggitt had assumed that it was in Myers's possession. This was not so. Myers never had possession of it after he delivered it up to Detective Walker. Their Worships' power under the Act only existed if the article was in Myers's possession.

Mr Haggitt said that his friend had forgotten the point raised, which was this; that the mere faot of Myers giving up possession to a person who was not entitled to possession was not parting with possession.

Sir R. Stout replied that he had not forgotten. Myers had parted with the watch at the instance of the prosecutor. It waa said on the other side that an exhibit in a case before the Supreme Court could be taken out of the custody of the police and held by the owner. If such a thingwere laid down as a new law it would be simply impossible for justice to be done in criminal cases, where identification was a meßt important consideration. He (Sir R. Stout) contended that the watch was in the custody of the law, not in the possession of the pawnbroker j and secondly, that it was in the custody ot the law by direction of the present plaintiff. On that narrow but clear ground, that the watch was not in Myers's possession, he (Sir R. Stout) said that the Court had no jurisdiction. After further argument, Mr Carew said that the Bench would give a decision on Monday morning.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890725.2.13

Bibliographic details

THE PAWNBROKERS ACT., Evening Star, Issue 7968, 25 July 1889

Word Count
960

THE PAWNBROKERS ACT. Evening Star, Issue 7968, 25 July 1889

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