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THE COURTS-TO-DAY, Issue 15673, 11 December 1914
SUPREME COURT.—CIVIL SITTINGS. (Before His Honor Mr Justice Sim and a ' jury of twelve.) His Honor Mr Justice Sim sat in the Supreme Court at 10 o’clock this morning. —A Libel Action.— John Biggar Waters, Thomas Thompson Ritchie, and Thomas Gray Scoular, grain seed, and’ produce merchants, and Joseph Edward Evans, produce salesman, v. T. E. Shiel and Co., produce and grain merchants. This was a claim for £751 damages for libel. The plaintiffs, Waters, Ritchie, and Co., in their statement of claim, set out that on the 26th of March last, at the request of the Canterbury Farmers’ Cooperative Association of Geraldine, they examined and reported upon a consignment of chaff. The other plaintiff, Evans, reported on the chaff to his employers. On the 3rd of April the defendants, in a letter written to the manager of the Canterbury Farmers’ Co-operative Associa/ticn, falsely and maliciously wrote and published of and concerning Waters, Ritchie, and Co., and of and concerning them in relation to their business. The letter contained the following; —“So far as Waters, Ritchie, and Co. are concerned, wo consider their report of no value whatever, as it is biased and untrue. The ignorance and mendacity of the person, who examined the chaff for them can easily proved by anyone who looks at the”’ chaff as it now lies in the store. Such a report cannot injure us, but it may cause serious injury to your client, by inciting him to litigation m a case in which he has not one chance in a thousand of succeeding against us. It is not a friendly act to mislead you and your client by a false report. Of course it fa conceivable that a man may bo so ignorant that ho could not tell the difference between prime chaff, medium chaff, good chaff, and inferior chaff, but we cannot believe it possible that any man is so ignorant as to describe the rotten rubbish sent on by your client by stating that ‘we should certainly characterise the whole delivery as good quality.’ ’’ By the said letter the defendants meant that the plaintiffs, Wa,tsrs, Ritchie, and Go., jbad been guilty of gross misconduct and negligent in the discharge of their duty to the Canterbury Farmers’ Co-operative Association, and had supplied to the associatioj a false and untrue report of the chaff, am that they employed ignorant, incompetent and untrustworthy persons. The plain V9| tiffs had in consequence suffered mud annoyance, and had been injured in theii credit and good name. The plainiffs, Waters, Ritchie, and Co., claimed £5Ol damages, and the plaintiff Evans £250 damages. The defendants, in their statement of defence, said that they did not write the letter, that if they dia write it it did not contain any defamatory statements, that if they did write it it was written under such circumstances as to make it privileged, and that tho words complained of were true in substance and in fact. Mr A. -S. Adams, with Mr J. C. Stephens, appeared for the plaintiffs, and Mr W. C. MacGregor for the defendants. Mr Stephens, in opening the case, explained the circumstances leading up to the libel. In January, 1914, the Canterbury Farmers’ Association, acting for a client (Mr Norman Campbell), sold a line of 60 tons of chaff to tho defendants. In the previous October the association, acting for tho same client, sold 50 tons of chaff to the defendants. The first lot was described in the sale note as “prime oat d| sheaf chaff,” and the description of the second lot w-as “ quality as last.” There was trouble between the vendor and pur- ; chaser about the second lot, and the libel was written concerning tho report Waters, Ritchie, and Co. gave at the request of tho Canterbury Farmers' Association. On the 6th of March the chaff commenced to arrive in Dunedin, and on the following day it was rejected by Shiol and Co. on the ground that it was not prime, but inferior quality. The plaintiff Evans was instructed by Mr Waters to examine tho chaff. He look a bulk sample and submitted it to his employers. The quality was discussed between them, and as a consequence they wrote their reports to tho manager of the Canterbury Fanners’ Association. In their first report, after they had examined half tho chaff, they wrote that they considered the chaff of good average quality, and in their second report, after they had completed their examination, they characterised the whole delivery ao good quality. The defendants’ letter to the association on the second part of the report contained the libel complained of in the statement of claim. Tho chaff, when sold, was sold in ths vory class in which tho plaintiffs had placed it in their reports. There were no rejections and no complaints whatever. Tho plaintiffs would prove that their reports instead of being- false, contained a reasonable and careful description of the chaff. Evidence was then called on behalf of the plaintiffs. Tho case was expected to last two days. CITY POLICE COURT. (Before J. R. Bartholomew, Esq., S.M.) Drunke.nness. —Alexander Ross, who had been once convicted during the past six months, was fined 12s or 48 hours for drunkenness. Prohibition Order.—A prohibition order was granted against a man on tho application of his brother. Charge of Unlawfully Entering.—Alfred John Burrows was charged with unlawfully entering the dwelling of J. Stout, at Wellington, on December 5 with intent to commit crime therein. — Accused, who had been arrested on board the steamer Buteshire, was remanded to appear at Wellington. Disturbance on a Tramcar.—Richard Corbett Cooper Green with charged with, on November 21, using obscene language in a public place, and also with unlawfully assaulting Edward Ward Anderson. —Accused pleaded guilty to both charges. —Senior-sergeant llart said that on the evening of the day in question, while one of the cars was changing over at tho terminus at Normanby, the accused attempted to board the car while obviously under the influence of liquor. The conductor asked him to get off, but he- refused to do so, and used bad language. Both tlie conductor and the motorman had to put him off forcibly, and then accused struck the conductor three times. Soma ladies had to get off the car as a result of tho incident. Accused hj $ since expressed regret for his action, and had notified the police of his intention to plead guilty.—Tho Magistrate said that accused had used very ugly langauge, and, as a matter of fact, could be sent to gaol without the option of a fine. His previous clean record would be taken into consideration, and also the fact that he had apologised. On the charge of obscene language ho would be fined £3 and costs (7s), in default two weeks’ imprisonment with hard labor, and on the other charge 20s, in default one week’s imprisonment with hard labor. By-law Cases. —On charges of allowing cattle to wander Samuel Dickson, Wm. Russel. Wm. Lainehhurv, Andrew Gibbons, and Alexander Hopkins Stone were each fined 5s and costs (7s). Frederick Dyer was fined 20s with costs (7s) on a charge of driving a motor car at a speed greater than four miles an hour while turning the corner of a street. Maintenance. —Tho wife of William MTCay applied for a maintenance order against her husband in favor of their four children.—Mr Irwin appeared for the complainant.—After further evidence had been called, the Magistrate said that it was very evident that M‘Kay had neglected his business. Ho was not impressed with his evidence, as he had shuffled considerably. Ha (the Magistrate) was more satisfied, with tho wife’s account. MTCay had not contributed anything like what he should, hav-e. He had beer, callous and had sponred on his wife, and that would not be tolerated. He would bo ordered to pay 30s a week maintenance (7s 6d for each child). He would also have to behave himself in future, or the Court would deal with him in a manner which would make him do so. (Deft sitting.)
THE COURTS-TO-DAY, Issue 15673, 11 December 1914
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