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THE COURTS-TO-DAY

CITY POLICE COURT.

(fiofor-i J. P.. Bartholomew, Esq., S.M.) Drunkenness.—A lirst ofFondor was fined s>, in default 24 hours' imprisonment.— John LowrYi who did not appear, was lined 10s, in default 18 hours' imprisonment. Alleged Assault nnd Robbery.—Allan M'Donald, charged with being an idle and disorderly person, and with having robbed Alex. Cronk of £1 ss. and used personal violence, was remanded till Friday. Breach of the Peace.—Robert Lawrence and Frank Poff were charged with having, on November 23, used threatening bchayiour in Princes street, whereby a breach of the peace was occasioned. Poff pleaded guilty under provocation; Lawrence not guiltv.—The independent evidencs showed that "Poff was sober and Lawrence drunk. Poff struck several blows, and Lawrence went through a window.—John Taylor Freeman said that thje man Lawrence struck the first blow.—The Magistrate held Unit Poff. as a sober man, was the main J*ub© o! Wig. iMiASII ill th.ejJSflftft» jiac« 1?.

could have gone away. He would be fined 20s and half of the expenses, in default three days; and Lawrence would bo fined 5s and half expenses, in default 48 hours* imprisonment.

By-laws.—David Taylor, for driving a vehicle after sunset without light, was fined 5s and costs (7s).—James Neil, for driving a motor car at excessive speed, was fined 20s and costs.

Failing to Register.—Leslie Joseph Guyton, on a charge of failing to register for military service (ho has since registered), was convicted and discharged.—Charles Edwards was fined 10s and costs (7s). SUPREME COURT.—CIVIL SITTINGS. (Before His Honor Mr Justice Sim and a jury of 12.) His Honor snt at 10 o'clock this morning to regime the hearing of the TJEKI, ACTION* in which Waters. Ritchie, and Co. and J. E. Evans claimed £751 damages from T. E. Shiel and Co. Mr A. S. Adams and Mr J. C. Stephens appeared for the plaintiffs arid Mrs W. C. MacGregor for the defendants. Evident* for the defence was given hv F. T. Rilev, It. M'Mulian, T. E. Shiel, V. J. Rohm, J. M. Frascx. and J. R. Melvin. His Hiinor: Have the parties, discuss* I the points of issue? Mr MacGregor: No. His Honor: What do you suggest—!?rai .should be put to the jury or the case lcr, to them generally? Mv MacGregor: I am content to leav it to them generally. There is. the qucs tion of privilege. His Honor: There is no doubt it_was a privileged occasion. It is a question of whether it lias not been abused. Mr MacGregor, in addressing the jury, said, the question war. whether the statements in the letter written by the defendants to the Canterbury Farmers' Cooperative Association were true or not. If the jury were satisfied they were true, that they wore substantially correct, then that ended the- action, and 'the defendants must succeed. Assuming they were true, theio was the further question: Was the letter written on what was known as a privileged occasion? That, was a question for th« Judge, who had said iti was a privileged occasion Were the defendants, in writing the letter, actuated by malice, because, if so, the privilege was destroyed. Learned counsel then dealt with the law on the point, and asked the jury to put themselves in Mr Shiel's position when ho wrote the letter, and then ask themselves: Was he acting bv malice or was he acting honestly when he wrote, actuated by a strong sense of indignation? It was quite clear that the chaff which was sold to the defendants as prime chaff was not prime chaff at all. Mr Shiel knew that a consignment of inferior chaff was beingforced on him agaiuet his will, and that being so. was it not likely that that was the tort of a ktter that would he' written by a man who knew that an attempt was being made to " bluff " him into taking a lino "that ho had contracted for? Was it not enough to make an honest man angry? The mere fact that Mr Shiel used strong words was not evidence of malice, but rather evidence of good faith. Mr Adams asked the jury to consider what material there was in the two reports furnished by the plaintiffs to Mr Creamer that could arouse hostility, anger, indignation, or annoyance in the mind of an honest man knowing perfectly well the reputation of the firm. As a matter cu fact, thev favored Mr Shiel if the sam was for prime oali sheaf chaff, and justified him in rejecting the chaff. Oa the evidence of privilege Mr Adams said that .-> person was protected whe.ro he had not abused an occasion which the Court, rukd to i-i privileged occlusion. How was Mr Shiei going to tell them that his mind was freu i!f wrong feeling towards the -plaintiffs when up to the present ho said all thedisgraceful things ho. wrote were true. I', was not a question in the leUer of whether the plaintiffs; made a mistake _or whether they were carole.se. The allegation mada was one of absolute fraud His Honor said he did not think the jury would have much difficulty in coming to "the conclusion that the letter was a libel. It was not seriously suggested that it. was not a libel. The next thing to consider was whether the charges contained in the letter were true or not. The plaintiffs in the reports did not eay that it was prime chaff. It was for the jury to «av, looking at all the evidence, whether it was correct to eav that the reports were the work of men who were incompetent anil dishonest, None of the plaintiffs witnesses, except Mr Creamer, said that the chaff was prime. They all agreed than it was not prime chaff but good cha.fi. the witnesses on behalf of the defendants described a good deal of it as rubbish and inferior t-ha'if. The plaintiffs relied nataurally on the evidence they had called as to th» result of the sale of the chaff. Thfl whole of the chaff was sold, and the parties who had bought it said that it was good chaff and that it had turned out, ail right. There had Wn a. suggestion about some other chaff being Mr Waters had 1 produced statements giving lists and prcc* and His Honor did not. think th« fun- would have mwli difficulty in accepting those statements as- showing truthfully whrt the result* of the sale were. A letter written was privileged unless it was clear that- the writer was actuated by malice. If th'> defendants used the occasion fairly ai»l honestlv ilic-v were privileged, and tho plaintiffs were not ont.tled to recover; but, on the other hand, it the jury thought! that the defendants did not use- the occa-;-i<m fairlv and honestly, but took advance of it to attack the plaintiffs' character unnecessarily, thou tho defendants lost the privilege. , . , Tho iurv retired at 10 minutes to 1, and had not, ikv.nve.il at 3 o'elo.-k

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Bibliographic details

THE COURTS-TO-DAY, Evening Star, Issue 15675, 14 December 1914

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1,159

THE COURTS-TO-DAY Evening Star, Issue 15675, 14 December 1914

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