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Glasgow Oil Company v. Bell

Court of Session, First Division, Friday July 25th, (before the Lord President and Jury)


To-day, the Lord President and jury were engaged trying action the instance of the Glasgow Oil Company, Broxburn (Limited), against Robert Bell, shalemaster and oil manufacturer, Broxburn, in which the damages are laid at £50,000.

It was stated for the pursuers that agreement, dated and December, 1870, was entered into between the pursuers and the defender, whereby the defender agreed to supply them with shale their works at Broxburn, Linlithgowshire, from the date the agreement until 11th November, 1879. By this agreement it was stipulated that the price of the shale should be fixed upon varying scale dependent upon the price of the crude oil, but the minimum price was to be 4s 3d per ton. It was also stipulated that the defender should be bound to supply to the pursuers 150 tons of shale per working day, when required, as a maximum, and that the pursuers should be bound to take 100 tons of shale per working day. In the event of strike among the miners or workmen, or failure of machinery which should interfere with the regular supply of shale, reasonable time was to be allowed to the defender to make up shorts, and to the pursuers to receive short deliveries.

It was further stipulated that the pursuers should receive and store throughout the contract any quantity of shale exceeding 10,000 tons, and provision was thereby made for the defender providing accommodation for storing the shale. The agreement also declared that in the event of circumstances so changing that the defender could not mine the shale with profit, or that the pursuers could not manufacture oil with a profit at the prices thereby fixed, the defender and the pursuers should be at liberty to terminate the arrangement on giving twelve months' notice.

The agreement was acted upon by both parties for some time after it was entered into, and the pursuers state that they were willing to fulfil, and had required the defender to fulfil his part thereof, down to its stipulated termination. In the beginning of September, 1872, however, the defender ceased to deliver shale to the pursuers, and he has since continued to persist in refusing to deliver shale to them. And the defender has done this, although the pursuers paid by cash and bills for shale invoiced by him in store for them to the extent of £1200, representing about 6000 tons of shale.

On 7th February, 1872, the defender addressed letter to the pursuers, setting forth that, consequence of certain demands for lordship, he was under the necessity of intimating that the agreement of 7th December, 1870, would come to an end in 12 months. It is alleged that since the defender ceased to supply the pursuers with shale he has continued to work and sell shale to other companies and persons at prices higher than those payable to him by the pursuers under the contract. consequence of this failure on the part of the defender, the pursuers have been obliged to stop their works, these being so situated that they could not and cannot obtain a supply of shale at remunerative prices from any other source.

In defence it is stated that, in addition to the provisions of the agreement quoted by the pursuers, there was a provision that the pursuers should build twenty houses for the defender's miners within twelve months from its date, and this provision the pursuers had failed to carry out. He says that he has fulfilled his part of the agreement; but that at the time when he wrote to the pursuers in February, 1872, it was, and it has since continued, impossible to mine the shale to profit at the prices stipulated in the agreement.

He avers that the pursuers acquiesced in this intimation, and raised no question thereanent until the occurrence of some difference between them. The pursuers were supplied with shale till the beginning of October, 1872. In consequence of a strike among the miners and the flooding of the mine about that time, the defender was unable to supply either the pursuers or himself with shale from the stipulated area, and this state of matters continued till the middle of November, when, the machinery and workings of the pit having been partially repaired, and the miners having partially returned to work, the defender made repeated offers to the pursuers to resume the supply under the agreement.

The pursuers had, however, by this time closed their works. They declined all proposals made by the defender, as they had for some been carrying their works a loss, and had made up their minds to close them for that reason. The issues sent to the jury were the following terms:—"lt being admitted that tbe agreement dated 7th and 21st December, 1870, was entered into between the pursuers and defender —

Evidence was led to-day. Monday, July 28. The action was compromised to-day.

The defender agrees to purchase the works of the pursuers at £11,000, and to cancel his own shares in the concern —the payment to be spread over a period of five years. The present action is to be dismissed, and each party to pay his own expenses. Counsel for the Pursuers —Mr Watson and Balfour. Agent —Hill, Reid & Drummoud, W.S. Counsel for the Defender —The Solicitor-General and Asher. Agents—Tods, Murray & Jamieson,

 

The Falkirk Herald - 31st July 1873

 

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