Hagley (Journeyman) March 1872 - March 1873
SELECT CASES IN THE COUNTY COURTS
LIABILITY OF A MINOR
At the Birmingham County Court the case of Loveridge v. Hagley was an action brought by Mr. George Loveridge, silversmith and jeweller, Birmingham, against a workman named Hagley, to recover the sum of 19l. 1s. 2d., money overdrawn on account of work unfinished.—Mr. Piercy Wilkinson appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr. Burton for the defendant.—The defendant had pleaded infancy.—Mr. Wilkinson said that was a plea which covered a great quantity of charges, but there were certain exceptions, and he thought his Honour would be of opinion that this was one in which the defendant had rendered himself personally liable. In March, 1872, the defendant went to Mr. Loveridge and offered himself to do certain work in the trade of jeweller. Mr. Loveridge accepted him under certain conditions. In answer to questions put to him by Mr. Loveridge, he stated that he was 22 years of age, and had been in the employment of other persons, mentioning their names and the length of time he ad been employed. It was agreed that Hagley should serve as a journeyman for Mr. Loveridge for a weekly sum of 30s. He did so serve until from March, 1872, to October of the same year, when there was a further agreement come to between them, whereby the defendant was to go on piece-work. He worked on these conditions until March, 1873, when he complained to Mr. Loveridge that he was ill, and said he wanted to go into the country to recruit his health. At that time a statement was drawn up between them, and from that statement it appeared that the defendant had overdrawn on account of piece-work the sum of 22l 6s. 8d. The plaintiff alleged that the excuse of ill-health was a fabrication, for within a few days of the defendant leaving him, he entered into another person's employment. Before this the defendant had told Mr. Loveridge that he had a chance of a better situation in the coloured gold trade, and that when his health was restored he should be able to pay the balance due. The case was brought before the magistrates, and the defendant was ordered to return to his work, but by an agreement between the parties the defendant gave a promissory note for the amount due, and engaged to pay 1l. per month. Some payments had been made, which reduced the amount to the sum now sought to be recovered.—After the examination of the plaintiff and of a witness who had frequently heard the defendant say he was 22 years old, Mr. Burton submitted that the defendant was not liable, as the contract was not beneficial to the infant, which it was clearly laid down it must be before the plaintiff could recover.—After hearing Mr. Wilkinson on the other side, his Honour quoted several cases bearing on the question, and said it was quite clear that if upon the settling of the amount due between the parties there had been a balance due to the infant, the infant could have recovered. He had done the work, and could recover from the master upon the contract the wages due to him. What the Court had to consider was whether, under circumstances like these, the plaintiff could recover the balance of the money the defendant had received, and whether, in point of fact, the agreement was a beneficial one to the defendant. The object of the defendant in entering into the agreement was to earn his own subsistence, and under that agreement he actually did earn in the first instance 30s. a week, which, for a youth of that age, seemed to be very good wages. Then, from October to March, 1873, he drew between 50l. and 60l. He could not but consider it was a very beneficial agreement for the infant. He might in time do better, and he appeared to have done so. It seemed to him that the defendant was bound by the contract, which was a beneficial one at the time it was made, and he should find a verdict for the plaintiff for the full amount claimed.
Source: The Law Journal - 31st January 1874