Monday, 20 February 2012

Arrol in court

Brewers seem to have spent quite a bit of time in court, mostly trying to get back money owed to them by publicans. Or at least money they claimed publicans owed them. We'll be looking at a couple of examples involving Archibald Arrol of Alloa. (If I'd been them I'd have gone for a triple A logo.)
This problem will be familiar to brewers today: trying to get empty casks returned.

"ACTION BY A BREWER.
ARROL V. HEYES. -Mr. Samuell was counsel for the plaintiff, and Mr. Gully for the defence. The plaintiff, Mr, Archibald Arrol, a brewer at Alloa, sought to recover from the defendant, Mr. Thomas Heyes, an ale merchant in this town, the value of a number of empty casks, which, on the part of the plaintiff, it was alleged had not been returned to him. The defendant had for some time been a customer of the plaintiff, but ultimately they ceased to have dealings with each other, and then there remained, according to the plaintiff's case, the casks which had not been returned. It was agreed between the parties to the action that the opinion of the jury should be obtained on one question, and the amount in dispute, stated on behalf of the plaintiff to be about £193, should, If a verdict were found for the plaintiff, be left to settlement by arbitration.- On the part of the defendant it was alleged that he had exercised due diligence In the collection of the empty casks from his customers, and to return them as soon as possible to the plaintiff, and that he was not, according to the custom of the trade, responsible, for their return unless he received a commission upon them.- The jury found a verdict for the defendant."
Liverpool Mercury - Friday 07 January 1870, page 3.
Once again, we're given a glimpse into the inner workings of the trade. For the debt to be £193, quite few casks must have been involved. That's a large sum for the period. But it's the bit about the custom of the trade that interests me. According to which, publicans only needed to return casks if they got a commission for them. But what is meant by commission in this sense? Does it mean he was paid a commission on every cask returned?

One thing is unusual about this case. The brewer lost. In most of the cases I've found it was the publican on the losing end.

The majority of brewer/publican cases are about payments that haven't been made. Mostly the landlord not paying for beer. This is different. It's about the money loaned to a potential publican to enable him to gain entry into the pub trade:

"ARROL & SON v. SUTHERLAND.
A joint minute was lodged to-day in the action at the instance of Archibald Arrol & Sons, wholesale wine and spirit merchants, 16 Dixon Street, Glasgow, against Angus Sutherland, Weem Hotel, and Robert Stewart, shipbuilder, Portland Place, Inverness. Decree was asked against defenders for £500, which pursuers advanced in June, 1888, to Alexander Macrae, accountant and house agent in Inverness, to enable him to take over a public-house in Inglis Street, Inverness, The money, it was stated, was advanced on the security of the defenders. The landlord refused to transfer the lease to Macrae, and the latter, it was stated, left Inverness on 3d August, and had not returned. His estate was insolvent, and in these circumstances pursuers called upon the defenders to pay the £500 for which they were liable. Sutherland denied signing the obligation. Stewart admitted his signature, but maintained that it was neither holograph nor tested, and was merely meant to show that he favoured the granting of the security which the pursuers wished. There was lodged a minute of abandonment, which was allowed on payment of the defenders' expenses."Glasgow Herald - Friday 08 November 1889, page 4.

Not the most respectable of accountants, Alexander Macrae, doing a runner and leaving his mates in the lurch when the pub deal fell through. Did Arrol ever track him down? For £500 - the equivalent of 10 years wages for a labourer - I suppose they must have tried.

I'm surprised that the guarantors got off so easily. Claiming it's not your signature is pretty lame. What does holograpgh mean in this sense? I can't imagine it means a 3D image.

The case demonstrates that the cosy arrangement between brewer and publican, with the former providing cash and the latter buying beer, didn't always work out as planned.

1 comment:

marquis said...

A holograph is a signed handwritten document.The point is that the text and signature are clearly written by the same person and this in some cases gives the document extra validity.