From The Times (London), 9 Jul 1872, p 11:
COURT OF QUEEN’S BENCH, Guildhall July 8 (Sittings at Nisi Prius, before Mr. Justice HANNEN and a Special Jury.)
AGELASTO V. REHDER.
This case arose out of a contract for the sale of jute. It was an action by the sellers against the buyers for non-acceptance of the jute, the defence being that it was not the kind of jute sold, and this raised a question whether such a defence can be set up when it is expressed that there is to be no guarantee of quality, but the commodity is described by known marks.
Sir J. Karslake, Mr. Edlin, Q.C., and Mr. Graham were for the plaintiff; Sir G. Honyman, Q.C., Mr. C. Butt, Q.C., Mr. Watkin Williams, and Mr. Ingham were for the defendant.
The sale note, on which the case turned, was follows:
--“Bought, by order and for account of Messrs. Rehder and Co., the following jute of Messrs. Agelasto and Sagrandi: --1,500 bales of their C.A. (3) mark, crop of 1870, at 20/. Per ton, June-July shipment, to arrive in London per ship or ships from Calcutta; ship’s name, unless given above, to be declared within two months from date of bill of lading. The jute to be taken without guarantee of quality, but to be in fair merchantable condition.” The jute was rejected as not being according to contract, and the case for the defence was that it was another and an inferior kind of jute, not really corresponding with the mark C.A.,(3), and evidence was called to sustain this defence, while evidence was given for the plaintiff that the jute fairly answered the description.
It appeared in evidence that jute (a species of hemp, grown in the East), varies in its growth, and differs a good deal as it is cut at different seasons of the year, and that different houses adopt different marks and numbers to indicate different kinds or qualities, the letters denoting kinds, and the numbers qualities. A.C. denoted an assorted cargo, and the evidence for the defence was that this jute was not assorted.
The learned JUDGE, in summing up the case to the jury, told them this was a mercantile contract which it was for them to construe. It had apparently been the object of the parties to preclude litigation, though they had not succeeded. It was beyond a doubt that the jute was to be in fair condition, and that it w as, in fact, seemed beyond a doubt. The contract, in terms, was to be “without guarantee of quality;” but that must be some limit. Did the jute fairly come within the description given? As to this the jury could hardly think that the contract would be satisfied by any jute provided; it had the specified mark and number on the bales. The marks were intended to designate the kind and description of the article, and buyers would buy on the fait that the marks were true. Jute that was not really C.A (3) could not be supplied in lieu of jute which really was of that description. There was no guarantee of the quality of the jute, provided it answered the description given of it.
The jury, after a brief consultation, retired to consider their verdict. They were absent less than half an hour, and returned into court with a verdict for the defendant, but without any imputation upon the plaintiffs.
The learned JUDGE said he entirely agreed.
The firm Agelasto & Sagrandi was dissolved by mutual consent, 1 Jul 1873.