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JUDICIAL COMMENT THEREON. On October 23, before Mr Justice Darling and a jury in the King's Bench Division. ' Miss Foe* Violot Florentina Von Sachs, a young Englishwoman, through her i'uther as next friend, sought to recover damages from Parsons and Ashton, proprietors of 'Phosferine' for alleg<d bicach of contract. The action arcse out of a competition for trw largest number of words to be formed from lbs letters of tho word "phosferine." tho plaintiff eontvrtdirjg that defendants had failed to keep the terms of their contract, and that she was entitled to a prize. Defendant's plea was that under the conditions of tho contract their decision was to bo held as final. Mr Thomas, for plaintiff, explained that notwithstanding her name plaintiff was a British-born subject, the daughter of an Australian justice of the peace, who aevved iu tho New Zealand contingent •in the Boer War. On October 14. J913, defendants advertised tho competition, in which they offered £1,178 in prizes, ranging from &6d to £SOO. Plaint ill' sant in a list of 930 words made out of the letters ofsthe word phosferine, but was not awarded anything, although her sister, who sent in 794 words, was awarded a prize of 10s, while the w'inning Uist comprised 454 words, which were, passtxl. Mr Max Peinberton (tho author) was the judge, and he. must have had a very interesting occupation. Defendants had dc»troy.vJ plaintiifs list and all the others except three or four. '1 ho winning list contained hiieh words as '" pitno," '"pose." " pos." "reh." '' phre-n." and " foen. '

His Lordship: "Pierro" is Italian for full in music. I ruppose it' will be- said to be a naturalised word. The thing is neither rich nor rare. One wonders how the devil it got there. (Laughter.) Mr Duke (for the newspaper) iut'mated •that the da fence v.a.s that there 1 ad been an adjudication to this U-st of the ai.ility of the judges agr;-.-d upon. In the absence ot fraud, which was net suggested, one could not go behind it. Mr Thomas went on u, say that plaintiff had since struck 166 words out of her list of 930, which had l>?en d< k'ted by the judge from th-" other lists, and S9 which hud been duplicated. That reduced the number to 665. of which 378 were in the winning list. All tha words in her sister's list appeared in that of the plaintiff, in addition to others. yet- plaintiff did not get a prize, tiioi'gh one was given to her sister. Mr Duke: One answer to that be that plaintiffs sister not to have won a prize. Mr Edwin Oliver, editor of tho 'Outlook,' called for plaintiff, expressed the opinion that 115 words in tha winning list could not bo said to be in common use. Mr Duke submitted that nothing had been shown which entitled plaintiff to ask tho jury to revise the decision of the. appointed, adjutieator. Though c-ome of the lists contained 1,000 or more words, many were disallowed by the judges as not complving with the conditions of the competitions! His lordship declined to leave the case to the jury upon any assumption that Mr Max Pemberton and the other judges had applied tin.? wrong system in deciding what was a word in common use and what was not. Plaintiff having chosen to submit to these conditions must abide bv the judge's decision. There could not be an inquiry in court as to whether the adjudication was a proper one in the. lit era ry but ho should leave to tho jury the question whether defendants had really considered plaintiff's list at all. and whether she ought not to have at leafit 10s, as was awarded to her sister. Mr Frederick J. i'aktbiead. general manager far defendants, nave evidence that, he 'supervised Uk- conduct of the competition, in which over 75.0C0 lists were sent in. None W'jro disqualified unless there was apparent fraud. In view of (he, system adopted in dealing with tho lifts it would have been impossible for a registered letter to go astray cv for lists to fail to pass through the tests which were employed in dealing with the competition. Cross-examined: As soon as the competition was settled they tta-rUd to destroy the lists, but these, of tho prizo-M inners were kept as cuxiositits. Mr Mas Pemberton, who acted as adjudicator, said that he provided a guide lL:t of words for inspectors and enumerators. He saw the principal winning litris ami about 50 others which lie took by chance. As far as ho could tee, th ■■> work was properly and exceedingly v. ell done. He saw no evidence, of neglect- or improper interference in the work.

In his (summing-up his lordship expressed great regret that- it shcukl bo. possible for such competitions; t.o be carried on. They did no good, and w.»re of no advantage to cduratit n. They simply leel to great waste of timo by people who would be much better employed. It- was not suggested that pi ain tiff was cjuilty of fraud, but no one who sat in the court* could help knowing that the?.; (•nnipctlcir-ns put. a premium o>i the eommisfion of fraud. The jury found i'>r plaintiff, damages £250. A stay of execution pending appeal was granted on the usual ternv..

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NEWSPAPER GUESSING COMPETITIONS, Issue 15678, 17 December 1914

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