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RATWATTA v. BUYZER.
C. B., Kandy, 1,041.
Court of Bequests—Jurisdiction to entertain cross claim in excess ofRs. 300—Issue as to difference between amount of claim and ofcross claim—Courts Ordinance, 1S89, s. 81—Rule guiding Judgein appeal in referring case to Collective Court.
In an action for recovery of Rs. 160 defendant admitted theamount, but pleaded that plaintiff owed him Rs. 366 on anotheraccount, and that he was entitled to judgment against the plaintifffor the difference. After judgment delivered in favour ofdefendant, but before signing of decree, plaintiff took the objectionthat defendant’s cross claim was beyond the jurisdiction of thecourt-
field, that such objection was not too late to be taken, and that itwas competent to the Court to grant such relief to the defendant aswas proper to its jurisdiction.
Per Bbowne, A.J.—As a general rule, a Judge sitting in appealshould properly refer a case to the Collective Court when there areconflicting decisions on. any question of law or procedure.
T3 LA INTIFF sued defendant for the recovery of Rs. 160, beingrent due to him. The defendant, while admitting his in-debtedness to the plaintiff in this sum, claimed from him Rs. 366* 25for work done by him as surveyor. Defendant prayed for judg-ment for the balance, Rs. 206*25. No plea in reconvention wasfiled. On the trial day, plaintiff and defendant agreed that the27-
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1899. only issue to be tried was whether the plaintiff was indebted toAugust 27. the defendant in Rs. 366'25 or any part thereof for work done.
After evidence heard the Commissioner found that the plaintiffwas indebted to the defendant in Rs. 342'25. Deducting theamount of plaintiff’s claim of Rs. 1601 from this, the Commis-sioner pronounced judgment that the defendant do recover fromthe plaintiff Rs. 182'25.
After judgment was delivered, but before the decree was signed,plaintiff’s counsel appeared before the Commissioner, afternotice to the defendant, and took the objection that the claimin reconvention was beyond the jurisdiction of the Court ofRequests.
The Commissioner overruled the objection and signed the decree,holding as follows :—
“ The inquiry as to the amount of the plaintiff’s debt to thedefendant was incidental to the claim in reconvention, whichinvolved a sum within the pecuniary limits of the jurisdiction ofthis Court. In answer to the plaintiff’s claim, the defendant said,
‘ I admit I owe you Rs. 160,’ and claimed the difference Rs. 340.
It would exceed the pecuniary limits of the jurisdiction of thisCourt, and could not be entertained, but if the defendant waivedRs. 40 and restricted his claim to Rs. 300 it would be within myjurisdiction. The amount claimed to be set off should not exceedthe jurisdiction of this Court. The excess of that amount overthe plaintiff’s claim, for which the defendant asks for a decreein his favour, if it does not exceed Rs. 300, is not material for thepurposes of jurisdiction. That, I think, is the meaning of section81 of The Courts Ordinance, 1889, which enacts: ‘ Where in any‘ proceeding before any Court of Requests any defence or claim* in reconvention of the defendant involves matter beyond the‘ jurisdiction of the Court, such defence or claim in reconvention >‘ shall not affect the competence or duty of the Court to dispose‘ of the matter in controversy so far as relates to the demand of‘ the plaintiff and the defence thereto, but no relief exceeding‘ tha t which the Court has jurisdiction to administer shall be‘ given to the defendant upon any such claim in reconvention.’ ”
The error Mr. Beven has made is to look upon the plaintiff’sdebt to the defendant as the amount of the claim in recon-vention.
I sustain my jurisdiction and sign the decree.
Dornhorst, for appellant.
Bctwa, for respondent.
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The case was argued on the 8th August, 1899, before Mr. ActingJustice Bbowne, and counsel on both sides submitted that thequestion of jurisdiction should be reserved by his lordship forthe Collective Court.
Cur. adv. milt.
27th August, 1899. Browne, A.J.—:
I consider that as a general rule the reference to the CollectiveCourt should properly be made when there are conflictingdecisions on any question of law or procedure, fend that it shouldnot be assumed such need will arise till they shall in fact occur.Moreover, I consider that though the provisions of section 73 ofThe Courts Ordinance have not been enacted in regard to Courts ofBequests in chapter VII. thereof, the provisions of section 81 havevery much the same effect when they make such a Court competenton a claim in reconvention exceeding its jurisdiction beingpreferred before it, to dispose of the matter in controversy so faras relates to the demand of the plaintiff and the defence thereto,limiting however the power to grant relief to that proper to itsjurisdiction; and that under the circumstances here of non-preferring of it before judgment the objection should not befavoured in appeal. The exercsie of the discretion'given therebyto this Court to direct the transfer of an action to a higher Court,it would appear to me, might possibly depend on whether thedefendant’s claim were for one matter (as say a bond or promissorynote the execution or making of which was denied) or, as here,for several units, for some of which the relief given would be asmatter of defence inconvenient and for the other as counterclaim.It would not always therefore be imperative that reconvention forover Rs. 300 would be matter beyond the jurisdiction of the Court.
I therefore take it upon myself not to accede to the request ofcounsel, as I do not see it is absolutely necessary I should do so.
Let the appeal on facts be set down for further hearing beforeme the week after next.
RATWATTA v. BUYZER