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I RELIGION AND SOCIALISM.

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, Merthyr Board of Guardians.

IImportant Case to Insurance…

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Important Case to Insurance Agents. ABERCYNON'AGENT'S CLAIM. A case involving the status and rights of assurance agents was heard at the Glamor- ganshire Assizes on Friday and Saturday last, before Mr. Justice Pickford and a. special jury, in which the plaintiff was Thomas Wi. iiams, of 244, Abercynon-road, Abercynon, and the defendants the Royal London Mutual Insurance Society, Ltd. The plaintiff was represented by Air. B. Francis-Williams, K.C., and Mr. Roland E. L. Vaughan-Wiiliams (in- structed: by Messrs. Gwilym James, Charles and Davies, Merthyr Tydfil); whilst Mr. John Sankey, 'K.C., and Mr' T. Arremus Jones (in- structed by Messrs. H. Kingsley, Wood, and Co., London) appeared for the defendants. Mr. Francis Williams, K.C.. in opening the case for the plaintiff, explained that up till the year 1908, the defendants had carried on busi- ness for forty .years under the styl of the Royal London Friendly Society, and was. a Friendly Society registered under the Friendly Societies Act, but that in August, 1908, the Society converted itself into a company. The Plaintiff entered the Society's employ, in 1892 as a spare-time collector, but did not sign any agreement of service until 1895. In the month of May of the latter year, a spare-time agree- ment was signed by -the plaintiff, which pro- vided, among other things, that the books sup- plied by the Society should be at the disposal of the committee of management (by whom the affairs of the Society were conducted), as pro- vided by Rule 2a of the Society's rules, and that the plaintiff. was not to resign the ap- pointment without giving at least 14 days' notice in writing, and the committee of man- agement were not to dismiss him without giv- ing a similar notioe, unless he was discharged for breach of Paragraph 8 of the agreement. Counsel explained that Paragraph 8 provided that the plaintiff was to held the appointment only upon condition that he conformed in all respects to the instructions, rules, and regula- tions of the Society. Coun-rel then referred to Rule 2a of the Society's registered rules, which provided that a collector holding a collecting book shall not be arbitrarily deprived of his office, but shall be deprived of his office only for dishonesty, wilful disobedience of orders, incompetency, neglect, or conduct calculated in the opinion of the committee of management to be injurious to the interests of the Society; and anv collector shall, except in cases where he is deprived of his office upon any of the grounds above specified, be at liberty (subject to the approval of the committee) to retire and nominate as his successor any person who shall, in the opinion of the oommittee, be eligible for such position; and such nominee shall enter upon, the office of the retiring collector to hold office as collector on the same conditions as his predecessor, etc. Learned cbunsel then reminded the jury that although the Society became converted into a company in the year 1908, and drew up fresh agreements for signa- ture by their collectors, which agreements can- ried forward the rights of the collectors as they previously existed, no fresh agreement was placed before the plaintiff for his signature. Immediately after the conversion, the defend- ants began to ut pressure upon all their col- lectors who held large books to sell portions thereof, and to nominate successors to such ppr- tions. This policy of splitting books, counsel contended, operated to the distinct loss of the collector, and benefited the defendants only, who, however, offered no compensation to the collector for the loss suffered by him. The defendants put pressure upon the plaintiff to dispose of half his book, .which had a weekly collection upon it of over £10. The book was a large and profitable one, had been built up by the plaintiff's own energies. He declined to eplit his book, and under pressure, offered to sell* the who of it to one buyer. This the -defendania would not have, and then they oogan. to subject the plaintiff to all sorts of restrictions with a view to daunting him. The correspondence which, passed between the de- fendants and their local inspector and etfpafin- tendent#, and which the defendants had been compelled to disclose, showed that an exhaust- ive aiatnination "of the plaintiff's agency was ordered, and'that tbeSe local superior oftioers had been obliged to admit. in their reports that the plaintiff's detail work was satisfactory, and no fault could, be found with the correct- ness of. bis accounts. In fact, no suggestion of dishonesty had ever been made by the defend- ants; yet on August 12th last, after serving them for 17 years., they dismissed him by notice. And after those proceedings had been commenced, they advanced as one of t.hcilir reasons for dismissal that the plaintiff had been devoting some of his time to canvassing for drapery orders; another reason being that the plaintiff did not present his accounts personally at the branch offioè" but sent them by post. Counsel then dls.It, with the plaintiff's claim, and explained that he asked for damages for, wrongful dismissal and an injunction restraining the defendants from in any way dealing with his collecting book. The plaintiff, on being sworn, bore out his oounsel's opening statement, and stated that after his dismissal he advertised his book for sale as one book. He reoeived various offers therefor, ranging from JS115 to £200. He in- formed the defendants' local superintendent that he was prepared to nominate any one of the buyers, and referred the buyers to him to" test the business on the book. The defendants, however, would not accept a single nominee, and none of the buyers was prepared to buy anything less than the whole book. In conse- quence of the attitude of the defendants, he had suffered loss.-Plaintiff was then cross-examin- ed by Mr. Sankey as to his presen* occupation, and his income therefrom. In further cross- examination, he denied having taken a pro- posal when there was no insurable interest He admitted having paid a claim out of hU ¡ own pocket on the life of John Li teen. He re- garded it as a valid claim, and h.ad advanced the amount due on it, in order to meet th" nres^mg needs of the claimant. He admitted having done thi- on previous occasions, but had never been r<epn?vian;lod for it. He thought lie was acting in the interests of the Society in i doso, for they adverted that claims «« '•aid promptly. He adrni^tid that h* had ten- ded hia by post. Ho dooe »o for sixteen years without comp aint, but tooic them in personally after receiving instructions to do so. He also admitted that he had been carrying on a side-line in the drapery, but claimed that he had the right to do so as he was only a spare-time agent. Some of the prospective buyers then went into the witness-box to prove the offers made bv them to the plaintiff, and evidence was also adduced on his behalf to show the selling price of collecting books like his in the South Wales district. Mr. Sankey, K.C., then opened the case for th-3 defendants. He submitted that as to the wrongful dismissal part of the claim, there was no case to go to the jury.—The Judge dissented and referred learned counscl to the ru'es of the Societv and the defendants' memo. of associa- tion.—Mr. Sankey then argued that the con- struction of the plaintiff's agreement and the rules could not be that the appointment was a. life appointment, and that the rules and memo. of association conferred no contractual rights upon the plaintiff.—The learned Judge said he was inclined to the contrary opinion, whereupon Mr. Sankey proceeded tc deal with the plam- tiff's claim" as to the nominating right of the collecting book.—In the course of the argu- ment, counsel withdrew the plea which had been put into the defence that the plaintiff's nominating rights only operated during the currency of his notice, and also withdrew all allegations which had been made against the plaintiff. He went on to say that he rested his case entirely upon the two legal points, viz.: that the defendants bad power (1) to give the notice of dismissal, and (2) to compel a collector to split up his book. The Judge: That being so, if you can agree upon the damages to be awarded the plaintiff, subject to those points, the legal argument had better be taken in London.—Mr. Francis- Williams: I agree, my lord. The parties and their counsel then conferred, and ultimately Mr. Sankey informed the Court that the damages to be paid to the plaintiff by the defendants had been agreed at £200, subject to his Lordship's decision upon the legal points raised by him.

DOWLAIS.

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