AN INSURANCE CASE.|1867-08-24|The Brecon County Times Neath Gazette and General Advertiser for the Counties of Brecon Carmarthen Radnor Monmouth Glamorgan Cardigan Montgomery Hereford - Welsh Newspapers Online
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AN INSURANCE CASE.

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AN INSURANCE CASE. At the Croydon Assizes, before Baron Martin and a special jury, the case of Gwynne v. the Royal Exchange Assurance Company was tried. This was an action to recover the sum of £2,150 upon a policy of assurance against loss by fire effected with the defendants. There were several pleas put upon the record by the latter, but the material one was that which alleged that the plaintiff had fraudulently made a claim for property which was not on the premises at the time the fire happened, and that, consequently, the policy was void. This cause was commenced on Friday, and after occupying several hours was adjourned until Saturday, and it appeared to create considerable interest. The plaintiff was a young man who about six years ago set up in business at Colchester as a draper, his father at that time advancing him a capital of zC2,000 for the purpose of enabling him to carry on his business. He occupied premises in the High-street of very considerable extent, and at the time the fire occurred, which was during the night, or rather early in the morning of the 8th of May last, his establishment consisted of two shop- women, his sister, and a niece about six years of age. The plaintiff went out on the evening of the 7th of May to a protection society, consisting of tradesmen in the town, and returned home between one and two o'clock on the morning of the 8th, and he at once proceeded to bed, everything at this time being apparently quite safe. Shortly before five o'clock, however, an alarm of fire was raised, and it appeared that the flames had obtained such a hold that it was with very great difficulty that the plaintiff and the other inmates of the house were enabled to make their escape from the burning premises, and they were only enabled to do so by means of lad- ders from the front windows. The fire appeared to have been of a very serious nature, for before it could be extinguished the premises of the plaintiff and five other houses were entirely destroyed, the whole of the backs, and also the entire stock of property that was upon the premises, as he alleged, being consumed. When sufficient time had elapsed for the purpose, the plaintiff sent in a claim to the agent of the company for the loss he had sustained, which he made to amount to over X2,000, and in this claim he put down large lumped sums for different articles to make that amount. He was told by the agent for the company that his claim could not be entertained in this form, and that he must put down every article separately, but he replied that it would be utterly impossible for him to do this, particu- larly as all his books, and a large number of his invoices, had been destroyed, and after a good deal of ineffectual negotiation, v/ith a view to see if some amicable arrange- ment could not be come to, the company eventually refused to pay the amount of the policy, and the present action was then brought by the plaintiff. The plaintiff was examined and cross-examined at con- siderable length, and he detailed the circumstances under which the fire occurred, so far as they were within his knowledge, declaring in the most positive manner that the stock which was upon his premises at the time of the fire was worth considerably more than £ 2,000. He also stated that he was most anxious to save his books and invoices, and made several attempts to enter the burning premises to obtain possession of them, but was prevented by the police superintendent, who at length took him to the police station until he was more com- posed, and in order to prevent him from running the risk of injuring himself by going into the house. One of the shopwomen was also examined, and she gave similar evidence as to the extent of the stock upon the premises at the time the fire happened and her evi- dence did not appear to be in any way shaken in cross- examination. At this stage of the inquiry the trial was adjourned until nine o'clock on Saturday morning. It was stated that during the night the learned judge was attacked with very severe illness, and he went into his private room, and Sergeant Ballantine and Mr. Hawkins were sent for to him, and they had a conference in reference to the case. Both the learned counsel shortly after- wards came into court and had a consultation with their attorneys, which lasted for some time. A communica- tion was shortly afterwards made to the learned judge, and he came upon the bench. Mr. Hawkins then said, that after the evidence that had been given on the previous evening, the defendant believed that there had been some mistake, and he had conferred with his learned friends on the other side, and the result was that he would consent to a verdict for the plaintiff, with XI,650 damages, it being at the same time stated that all imputations of fraud upon the plaintiff would be withdrawn. Sergeant Ballantine, on the part of the plaintiff, said he concurred with the arrangement, and a verdict was then taken for the plaintiff for the amount mentioned- namely, £ 1,650. This case concluded the business of the assizes.

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