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Present : Dalton J.
PATE et a!, v. MACK.
24o—C. R. Colombo. 22,SIB.
Prescription—A cco u n t by veterinarians—Book debt—Ordimmrr Yt.. ’*’Jof 1871, s. V.
Where in an account rendered by a veterinary hospital an in-elusive charge was made, in which the fees for professional service**were merged,—
Held, that such an account would fall within the category of abook debt in terms of section 0 of the Prescription Ordinance.
PPEAL from a judgment of the Commissioner of Requests.
Colombo. The plaintiffs, carrying on business in partnership
a§ veterinarians and shoeing smiths, sought- to recover from thedefendant a sum of Rs. 24.98, being the value of professional servicesrendered and the cost of treatment of a dog. It appeared to be Hiepractice to make an inclusive daily charge for each animal—a chargeincluding professional attendance, medicine, diet, kennelling, and. other services. The accounts were sent out monthly. The onlyquestion was whether the sum due from the defendant was a bookdebt within the meaning of section 9 of the Prescription Ordinance,11871, the defendant pleading the benefit of that section. The. learned Commissioner dismissed the plaintiffs' action.
H. V. Perera, for plaintiffs, appellant.
Ii. L. Pereira (with F, C. Loos), for defendant, respondent.
June 22, 1926. Daltox J.—*
■ The plaintiffs—three persons, carrying on business in partnershipfunder the name of T. A. Pate & Co.—sought to recover from tlu*defendant the sum of lls. 24.98, stated to be the value of profes-sional services rendered and cost of treatment- of a dog belonging tothe defendant. The only question for decision is whether or not thesum is a “ hook debt *' within the meaning of section 9 of thePrescription Ordinance, 187.1, the defendant pleading the benefitof that section. The liability arose on October 11, 1923, and the. ])l;>intiwa6 filed on June .5, 1925.
Only one member of the partnership is a veterinary surgeon. Inaudition to that one member's general practice as such, the partner-ship :described as Veterinarians and Shoeing Smiths” carries ona veterinary hospital in Colombo, which the evidence shows hasaccommodation for 60 animals. Account books are kept, as wouldbe expected, in respect of the charges for each animal. It appearsto be the usual practice to make an inclusive daily charge for each
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animal in the hospital—a charge including professional attendance,.
. medicine, diet, kennelling, and other services. Such charges, how-ever, as operation fees, chloroform fees, and dressing fees, are no paHf»of the inclusive charge. There are no such charges in this case, butthe account shows that they are separately rendered when thereare any. The fees of the professional member of the partnership,however, he admits cannot be separated in the account in this casesent to the defendant from all the other charges. The accountsare sent out monthly, and the accounts state that after one monthten per cent, interest is charged.
The question to be answered is whether this sum is a “ book debt ”within the meaning of section 9. From the context, I think it isclear that the book debt in contemplation is one arising in connectionwith a shop, trade, or business carried on by the party concerned,and would not include a debt which consisted of fees due to a profes-sional man. Mr. R. L. Pereira states he is not prepared to questionthis. I think the decision of Greiner J. in Alvapillai v. Sadayar 1and Ounesekere v, Ratnaike,2 the former by analogy, and the lattermore directly, support this view. Mr. H. V. Perera, however, for theappellants, contends that the plaintiffs’ business is not really a tradeor business such as is contemplated by section 9, in that it neces-sarily requiries professional skill, and cannot be classed with any ofthe cases for which section 9 provides. I am unable to agree withhim. I do not suggest that professional skill is not required in aveterinary hospital, but in this case the veterinary surgeon admitshe cannot say what part of the sum charged represents his ownprofessional services. An inclusive fee has been charged for thebenefit of the business carried on by the partnership, into which thefees for professional services have become merged. That inclusivefee, it is admitted, includes diet and medicine.
In the Official Receiver v. Tailby, 3 a case dealing with an assign-ment of property and book debts, Lord Esher gives a definition ofwhat he conceives “ book debts ” to include. He says—
. “The expression ‘ book debts ’ is not in itself vague. It meansdebts arising in a trade or business in which it is usual tokeep books, not necessarily those actually put iuto books,but those which ought to be booked in ordinary course.”
It seems to me that the plaintiffs were carrying on a business inwhich this debt was booked in the ordinary course. It is in myopinion a book debt within the meaning of section 9, and hence it isprescribed.
The appeal must, therefore, be dismissed, with costs.
1 Bal. 143.
21 Gey, L. Rec. 264.
56 X. J. Q. B, 30,
PATE et al. v. MACK