LYALL GRANT J.—Urban Di.itrid Council, Maleic o. Sellaiyah.
Present: Lyall Grant J.
URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL, MAT ALL v. SELLAIYAH.
238—C. It. Matale 632.
Contract—Agreement to contribute towards cost oj constructing drain—Bindingpromise—prescription—Written agreement—Jurisdiction—Ordinance No. 11 of1920, s. 224.
An Urban District Council informed the defendant that it proposedto construct a drain and asked him to make a contribution towardsthe cost. The defendant agreed to contribute a certain sum of money.The Council, thereupon, constructed the drain.
Held (in an action by the Council to recover the money), that theagreement was binding upon the defendant.
Held further, that the cause of action falls for prescription undersection 7 of Ordinance No. 22 of 1871, as being upon a written, promise.
Held also, the jurisdiction of the Court of 'Requests was not oustedby socliou 222 of the Local Government Ordinance, No. 11 of 1920.
^^PPEAL front a judgment of the Commissioner of Requests, Matale.
Nadctrajah (with him Abeyesekere), for defendant, appellant.
Navaratnan:, for plaintiff, respondent.
June 10, 1931. Lyall Gjiant J.—
The plaintiff in this action, the Urban District Council of Matale,sues to recover the sum of Rs. 60 with interest from the defendant inpursuance of an agreement by the defendant to contribute that sumtowards the construction of a certain drain. The drain was duly com-pleted but the defendant failed to pay.
The issues en which the case went to trial were: —
Has the Court of Requests jurisdiction?
Was the claim prescribed?
Did the defendant agree to pay a contribution?
Was the agreement conditional?
If so, was there a violation by the plaintiff of such condition or
The Court of Requests answered all the issues in the plaintiff's favourand gave decree for the sum sued for with interest.
It was argued in appeal that the learned Commissioner was wrongon each issue.
On the first, that of jurisdiction, it was argued that section 222 of theLocal Government Ordinance, No. 11 of 1920, excluded the jurisdictionof the Commissioner of Requests and gave exclusive jurisdiction to thePolice Magistrate in claims for less than Rs. 100.
I do not think that is the meaning of the section which deals onlywith the assessment and apportionment of sums payable under theprovisions of the Ordinance as damages, costs, or expenses; that is tosay that before a Court proceeds under this section it must already havebeen decided that money is payable.
LYALL GRANT J.—Urban District Council, Matttlc o. S.ellaiyah.
It was aruged that section 224 extended the provisions of section 222.
Seotion 224 empowers the Court to review in the manner prescribedby section 222 the amount of any expenses incurred in executing a workwhich by Ordinance or rule the owner of any house, building, or land isrequired to execute.
In the present case it has not been shown that – the defendant wasrequired to make this drain, and it cannot therefore be successfullymaintained that this section applies.
The Court of Bequests is the tribunul having ordinary jurisdiction inclaims of this nature and 1 am not satisfied that its jurisdiction has beenousted.
The plea of prescription is based on section 9 of the PrescriptionOrdinance, No. 22 of 1871. It is alleged that this is an action for workand labour done and that it is not maintainable, since it was notbrought within one year after the debt became due.
It is agreed that the debt became due on April 9, 1929—the date ofthe letter of demand, and the plaint was not file<I till September 24, 1930.
The plaintiff maintains that this is not an action for work and labourbut is one on a written promise or bargain prescribing in six years(section 7) or alternatively on an unwritten promise or bargain, prescrib-ing in 3 years (section 8).
Defendant's counsel referred me to Walker, Sons <£ Company, Limited v.Kandyah.' where a claim for repairs effected in a motor car was heldto prescribe in an year as being an action for work and labour done andgoods sold and delivered although the order to effect repairs and the .acceptance of the order were in writing.
These letters, however, contained no promise to pay a fixed sum.They were merely evidence that a contract to do work and deliver goodsexisted.
I do not think section 9 applies to the present case. The plaintiffsties on a written promise to pay Its. 60, contained in a letter ofNovember 27, 1928. Such a claim in my opinion falls under section 7and was not prescribed at the date of action.
On the remaining issues I think the learned Commissioner of Bequestshas also come to a correct conclusion.
By letter PI dated November 16, 1928*, the plaintiff Council intimatedto the defendant that it proposed to construct a certain drain and askedhim to contribute Bs. 120.83, mentioning the total cost and the amountto be contributed by others. By letter P4 dated. November 27, 1928,the defendant replied that he felt the contribution asked was too muchbut intimated that for the sake of co-operation he was willing tocontribute Bs. 60. .
The drain was thereupon built by the plaintiff Council and on April 9,3929, the defendant was called upon to contribute Bs. 60. The defendantthereupon raised objections. After considerable correspondence he onSeptember 11, 1930, said that his consent had -been conditional on theoutlet drain not being used to serve the purpose of conservancy.
There is nothing ?n P4 to suggest that the promise was subject to thisor any other conditions.
i (JPIP) ?l v. L. R. 317.
Raman Chetty 9. Shawe„
The question of $he binding effect of a promise under our law was dis-cussed very fully by the Privy Council in Jayawickreme v. Amarasuriya*.
" Justa causa debendiit was observed by Lord Atkinson ’* is muchwider than the English word * consideration It comprises motive orreason for a promise and also purely moral consideration."
Here the motive for the promise was a desire to co-operate) possiblybacked by a wholesome anxiety lest the Council might exercise compul-sory powers in the matter. The Council evidently regarded the promiseas definite and binding and proceeded to construct the drain. As thedrain was at the side of the defendant’s house he must have been awareof the process of construction from its inception.
Even if the letter P4 was, as the defendant maintains, nothing morethan an offer, acceptance of the offer was shown by the Council proceedingto construct the drain alongside the defendant's house. In the circum-stances, however, I think it was moie than an offer. It was a bindingpromise.
The appeal is dismissed with costs.
URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL, MATALE v. SELLAIYAH