Hamid v. Badurdeen.
1946Present: Howard C.J.
HAMID, Appellant, and BADURDEEN, Respondent.166—C. R. Matale, 7,428.
Jurisdiction—Action to recover money—Claim for interest—Part of cause ofaction—Court of Requests.
In an action to recover money a claim for interest'is not somethingincidental to the cause of action but is part of the cause of actionitself.
When the amount olaimed together with interest up to the date of theplaint exceeds Ks. 300 the Court of Requests has no jurisdiction.
PPEAL from a judgment of the Commissioner of Requests, Matale.
Cyril E. 8. Perera (with him E. A. G. de Silva), for the plaintiff,appellant.
H. W. Jayewardene, for the defendant, respondent.
Cur. adv. vult.
HOWARD C.J.—Hamid v. Badiirdeen.
February 1, 1946. Howard C.J.—
The plaintiff appeals from a judgment of the Commissioner of Requests,Matale, dismissing his action on the ground that the claim was not withinthe jurisdiction of the Court of Requests. In his plaint the plaintiffclaimed an order for the return of certain articles of jewellery on paymentof the sum of Rs. 231. In the alternative he claimed judgment againstthe defendant for the sum of Rs. 269, that is to say, the value of the saidarticles Rs. 500 less the sum of Rs. 231. It would appear from theevidence which was accepted by the Commissioner that the plaintiff onAugust 16, 1939, deposited the jewellery with the defendant as securityfor a loan of Rs. 231. In holding that he has no jurisdiction theCommissioner relying on the judgment of Wood Renton J. in Caro v.Arolis 1 held that the test of jurisdiction is the amount demanded and notthe amount awarded. He has further held that the value given by theplaintiff in his plaint must always be taken to determine the forumexcept in cases where the plaintiff has misrepresented the value with theintention of getting a trial in a different Court from that intended by theLegislature.
The jurisdiction of the Court of Requests is formulated in section 75 ofthe Courts Ordinance (Cap. 6) which is worded as follows :—
“ Every Court of Requests shall be a Court of record and shall haveoriginal jurisdiction, and shall have cognizance of and full power tohear and determine all actions in which the debt, damage, or demandshall not exceed three hundred rupees, and in which the party or partiesdefendant shall be resident within the jurisdiction of such court, or inwhich the cause of action shall have arisen within such jurisdiction,and all hypothecary actions in which the amount claimed shall notexceed three hundred rupees, and the land hypothecated or any partthereof is situated within the jurisdiction of such Court, and also allactions in which the title to, interest in, or right to the possession of anyland shall be in dispute, and all actions for the partition or sale of land,provided that the value of the land or the particular share, right, orinterest in dispute or to be partitioned or sold shall not exceed threehundred rupees, and the same or any part thereof is situate within thejurisdiction of such Court:
Provided always that such Court shall not have cognizance of anyaction for criminal conversation, or for seduction, or for breach ofpromise of marriage, or for separation a mensa e< thoro, or for a divorcea vinculo matrimonii, or for declaration of nullity of marriage.”
The only question that arises is whether the Commissioner was rightin holding that the debt, damage or demand exceeded Rs. 300. Inaddition to the cases cited to me by Counsel I have also consideredthe cases of Thaynappa CJietly v. Packier Bawa 2, Areppin Ahamat v. T. D.Mar linns3, and MaclacMan v. Maitland*. In the first case the action wasbrought in the District Court and the amount due on the day of the libelwas £10. The libel in regular form claimed further interest till paymentin full This further claim raised the amount for which the plaintiff got
1 10 N. L. R. 173* Wendt's Reports 341.
* liamanathan’s Reports 1863-1868, 216.* 8 Supreme Court Circular 133.
HOWARD C. J.—Hamid v. Badurdeen.
judgment to a sum exceeding £10. Creasy C.J. giving the judgment ofthe Full Bench held that in construing Court of Requests’ Acts andOrdinances as to jurisdiction, it is the amount which the plaintiff hasjudgment to recover that determines whether the action was within thejurisdiction of the inferior Court. The action was therefore properlyinstituted in the District Court and was not within the jurisdiction of theCourt of Requests. In the second case it was held by Burnside C.J.and Clarence J. that an action to recover Rs. 100 and interest thereonmust be brought in the District Court and that a judgment giving plaintiffRs. 100 and interest on Rs. 100 at 9 per cent, per annum from the insti-tution of the action to the date of the judgment is a judgment for morethan Rs. 100 and therefore the Court of Requests had no jurisdiction.In Maclachlan v. Maitland (supra) the headnote was as follows :
“ In an action brought against an hotel-keeper for the loss of goodsstolen from the plaintiff’s bedroom whilst a guest of the hotel, theplaintiff claimed Rs. 162 ‘50 as damages. From this sum he set off asum of Rs. 37'30 as due to the hotel-keeper for his board, and waivinga further sum of Rs. 25'20, he prayed that the balance sum of Rs. 100might be decreed to him as damages, after deducting the debt duefrom him to the hotel-keeper, together with interest thereon at nineper cent, from the institution of the suit.
Held, per Dias A.C.J., that the plaintiff’s action was well laid in theCourt of Requests, as it was substantially an action to recover Rs. 100as damages due at the date of the filing of the plaint, with interestthereafter at nine per cent.”
These three decisions cannot be reconciled. In Maclachlan v. Maitland(supra), Dias A.C.J. held that, if the actual amount claimed as due at thedate of action was within the jurisdiction, the interest accrued after thedate of plaint was a mere incident connected with the debt and hadnothing to do with the question of jurisdiction. This decision was theexact opposite to the decision in Areppin Ahamat v. T. D. Martinus(supra). In Thaynappa Chetty v. Packier Bawa (supra), however, theFull Bench decided that interest is not something merely incidentalto the cause of action and to the process of action, as costs are, but itforms part of the cause of action itself. Reference was made by CreasyC.J. in the course of his judgment to Baddely v. Oliver 1 and to a dictumof Mr. Justice Byles in Byles on Bills p. 264, 7th edition where the lattersaid “ interest is in the nature of damages for the retention of theprincipal debt.” The decision in Thaynappa Chetty v. Packier Bawa(supra) was cited with approval by De Sampayo J. in Banda v. Menika 2in so far as that it related to an action for the recovery of “ a debt,damage or demand ”, that is to say of the character declared in the firstpart of section 75 of the Courts Ordinance. Banda v. Menika (supra) wasthe decision of a Full Bench. Again in Pedris v. Mohideen 3, anotherFull Bench decision, Schneider J. at pp. 110—111 stated as follows :“ although section 77 limits the jurisdiction in actions for debt, damageor demand, no such limitation is imposed as regards the damages whichmay be claimed in actions for recovery of possession.”
» 1C. <b M. 219.* 21 N. Sd. R. at p 282.
* 25 N. L. R. 105.
SOERTSZ 8.P.J.—Paktaun o. Hamid (Price Control Inspector).
In the present case the plaintiff claims the return of articles ofjewellery on payment of the Bum of Rs. 231 or in the alternative judgmentfor the sum of Rs. 269, being the value of the articles which for thepurpose of this alternative claim are assessed at Rs. 500 loss Rs. 231,together with legal interest from date of plaint till payment thereof.In evidence the plaintiff states that the value of the jewellery is Rs. 735.So in his first demand the plaintiff is claiming the return of articlesvalued at Rs. 735 on payment of Rs. 231. This demand is clearly outsidethe jurisdiction of the Court. In the alternative claim the plaintiff asksfor the value of the articles which for this purpose he assesses at Rs. 500less Rs. 231 or Rs. 269 and legal interest on this sum until payment. Asthe plaint was issued on October 6, 1942, interest is claimed for over 3years. This interest will bring the demand to a sum exceeding Rs. 300which in view of the Full Bench decisions cited is outside the jurisdictionof the Court of Requests.
For the reasons I have given I am of opinion that the Commissionercame to a correct conclusion and the appeal is dismissed with costs.
HAMID , Appellant, and BADURDEEN , Respondent