Thursday Flashback

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1915 Court

At the Scarborough County Court today William Purnell, a member of the Scarborough Board of Guardians, trading as Simon Purnell and Son, 48 and 49, Sandside Marine Store Dealer, sued Thomas AH Crompton, trading as Crompton and Company, 347, Cable Street, London, manufacturers and merchants, for commission amounting to 
£56 13s 9d.

Mr J Whitfield, solicitor, appeared for plaintiff, and Mr GFL Mortimer, barrister, instructed by Messrs Tasker Hart and Munby, was for the defendant.

Mr Whitfield, in opening the case, said the plaintiff was principally a ship’s store dealer. The defendant was a wholesale dealer in tents and other similar articles. The claim was for balance of commission payable by defendant to plaintiff at 5 per cent on the following accounts: W Catlin £1,333 15s 3d, and three smaller sums.

Mr Whitfield said the agreement entered into to pay commission was a verbal one made in January, 1914, in pursuance of tents.

By the Judge: The commission was for introducing business.

Purnell, proceeded Mr Whitfield, had dealt with defendant, and the defendant’s predecessors for some years. In 1910 he noticed some women making tents and there was some discussion as to the business of tent-making.

In the December of 1913 plaintiff, having ascertained that Mr Catlin was about to establish a holiday camp, he (plaintiff) made a request as to introducing a firm likely to do business in a satisfactory manner. Having got permission to make an introduction of that kind he wrote to defendant, setting out the facts, and stating that a camp to accommodate 600 to 1,000 people was to be established. He asked defendant to write direct, and endeavour to secure the order. If the latter was secured he asked for the “usual commission”.

Defendant came to Scarborough and in conversation with plaintiff said, “It is very good of you. I intend to have it at any price.” Plaintiff said that if business was done he would expect the usual commission. Defendant asked, “What do you mean by usual commission?”. Plaintiff replied, “We usually get 5 per cent on all transactions done.”

The order was obtained on February 9th. It appeared that the net commission due was £65 11s 8d and after deductions the amount claimed was £54 11s 8d. Later, said Mr Whitfield, defendant sent some £11 as commission in regard to the tents, expressing the hope that he would be satisfied as there was not a great deal made out of it. It was as much as he could allow. “In other cases,” said the letter, 5 per cent had been allowed “as arranged”. The sum of £11 would, of course, be only one per cent, on £1,100, but the 
account came to over £1,300.

In the course of his evidence plaintiff said that when he asked about the commission defendant said, “It will not be less than 5 per cent.” Witness said, “I should think not, because this is going to be a big job.”

By Mr Mortimer: He considered he was entitled to five per cent, even if the conversation with Mr Crompton had not taken place – provided, of course, that the order was secured. Otherwise he would not have expected anything.

Mr Mortimer: Why, when he sent £11, didn’t you say: Eleven pounds! Eleven pounds be blowed – you promised me five per cent?

Witness said he took 
defendant to be a man of honour, and he wrote, through a Mr Webb, that he was not satisfied. He said that in the case of £1,000 an arrangement, he thought, would be come to. Apart from an agreement he should think anyone would claim a five per cent commission.

Mr Mortimer: Would you pay it? Witness: That is another matter (laughter).

By Mr Whitfield: In the absence of stipulation he would charge 5 per cent.

Crompton said plaintiff’s account would be credited against the commission. Nothing was said on any occasion about 5 per cent. The £11 
allowed was one per cent with an addition for storage of a few goods samples. In defendant’s opinion the £11 was ample 
remuneration for what he did.

The contract came out at £1,311 13s 6d, and by the time plaintiff was paid there was 
actually no profit left.

Proceeding, defendant said there was no such thing as “usual commission”.

Mr Whitfield drew attention to a letter of defendant’s in which he said, “We have never as yet given as much commission as you state.” He asked what commission he meant by that?

Defendant said it might have been a typist’s error, because no amount of commission was stated.

The Judge said there must have been some idea in defendant’s mind.

Defendant said that that was not his dictation.

Plaintiff was given judgement for £54 11s 8d.