GARVIN A.C.J.—Alvarappa Pillai v. Perera
1933Present: Garvin A.C.J. and Maartensz A.J.
ALVARAPPA PILLAI v. PERERA.349—D. C. Colombo, 41,145.
Prescription—Claim for money lent—Assignment of claim—Meaning of “ bookdebt ”—Ordinance No. 22 of 1371, $$. 8 and 9.
A claim for money lent, which is prescribed in three years, does notbecome a book debt within the meaning of section 9 of the PrescriptionOrdinance merely because the transaction is entered in the books keptby the lender in the ordinary course of business.
PPEAL from a judgment of the District Judge of Colombo.
N. Nadarajah (with him J. E. Alles), for plaintiff, appellant.
No appearance for defendant, respondent.
Cur. adv. vult.
November 30,1933. Garvin A.C.J.—
This is an appeal by a plaintiff whose action was dismissed in the viewthat it was a claim to recover a book debt within the meaning of section 9of Ordinance No. 22 of 1871, and as such barred by lapse of time.
1 Lntr Hep. (1U10 – K. B. (UK
GARVIN A.C.J.—Alvarappa Pillai v. Perera
The amount claimed was Rs. 650. Of this sum the District Judge hasfound that with the exception of Rs. 41.74 which represents the value ofgoods sold, the balance was money lent and advanced to the defendantby the firm of Arumugam Brothers and had not been repaid. Thepartners of this firm were declared insolvent. In the course of theliquidation the assignee sold the book debts of the insolvents and dulyassigned the same to the plaintiff by the deed P 4 filed of record.
Hie learned District Judge took the view that, notwithstanding thatto the extent of Rs. 608.26 the claim represented money lent to thedefendant, the action by the plaintiff must be regarded as a claim torecover a book debt because the original lenders* rights of action passedto the plaintiff under an assignment to him of book debts. The termbook debt in the document of assignment appears in a context in whichit is clear that it was used in a general sense so as to include in the assign-ment all debts of whatever kind which became due in the ordinary courseof the business of Arumugam Brothers and were entered in their books.It cannot be ‘doubted that there was a valid assignment of the debts dueto that firm from the defendant which consisted partly of money lent andpartly of the value of goods sold and delivered.
The plaintiff is therefore in the position of Arumugam Brothers ; he isentitled to the same rights of action. As to the sum Rs. 41.74 for goodssupplied, a year has elapsed since the cause of action arose and inasmuchas a claim in respect of goods sold and delivered is barred in one year theclaim is no longer sustainable.
In the case of money lent the period of limitation is three years—videsection 8 of Ordinance No. 22 of 1871—and the claim is not thereforebarred by that provision. Section 9 of the same Ordinance, however,prescribes a time limit of one year for the maintenance of actions “ foror in respect of any goods sold and delivered or for any shop bill or bookdebt . . . The question for consideration is whether a claim formoney lent, against which the time limit of three years prescribed bysection 8 has not run is barred after the lapse of one year if the transactionis entered in the books kept by the lender in the ordinary course of hisbusiness. If the expression “ book debt ” as it appears in section 9 must begiven the wide and general meaning of any debt entered or which shouldhave been entered in books kept in the ordinary course of business then,however anomalous the result may be, the claim is barred.
An examination of the provisions of Ordinance No. 22 of 1871 showsthat the legislature has grouped together various claims and causes ofaction in a series of sections, and prescribed a time limit in respect ofeach group. It then proceeds to make provision prescribing a timelimit for the bringing of actions in respect of any cause of action notexpressly included in these groups—vide section 11.
The various causes of action specified in these various groups wouldjustify the inference that these groups were intended to be mutuallyexclusive. This should be borne in mind in the interpretation of thegeneral words and expressions which appear in a few of these sections.To interpret the words “book debts” which appear in section 9 in thebroad general meaning which they ordinarily bear would be to sweep intosection 9 many of the cases specified and expressly provided for in other
DALTON S.P.3.—Charles Appu v. Dias Abeysinghe.323
sections of the Ordinance. The provisions of the Ordinance read as awhole strongly support what appears to be the settled view of this Court—that the expression “ book debt" must be given a more restricted meaningand one which will not bring about a conflict with the other specificprovisions of the Ordinance. In Rantebe v. Petris Silva Dalton J. whendealing with just such a case as the one now under consideration recapi-tulates most of the authorities and comes to the conclusion that themeaning to be attached to the words “ book debts ” in section 9 “ shouldbe limited by the previous specific words which have been coupled withthe term ‘ book debt ’
As indicated above I have myself arrived 'at a similar conclusion. Theclaim for money lent is not therefore barred. This appeal is allowed andjudgment will be entered for plaintiff for Rs. 608.26, together withinterest thereon at 9 per cent, per annum from the date of action to thisdate and thereafter on the aggregate amount at 9 per cent, per annum tillpayment in full.
He is also entitled to his costs both here and below.
Maartensz A.J.—I agree.
ALVARAPPA PILLAI v. PERERA