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WELSH WBSLKYAN METHODIST ASSEMBLY.I

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LOCAL LAW CASE. A CUSTOM OF SHEEP FARMING. In the Court of Appeal on Monday before Lords Justices A. L.. Smith, Righy, and Vaughan Williams, an appeal by Miss Simncr against ihe judgment of Mr Justice Wills after a hearing at Merioneth Assizes was heard. Mr Marshall, who appeared for the appellant, said the action was brought by a Welsh farmer, named Hugh Evans, who became the tenant of certain farms in IS03, which had since been purchased by the defendant, Miss Simner, a lady living at Westminster, to recover the sum of about £575 under he following circumstances. There was a clause in the lease that the tenancy between the plaintiff and the defendant could be terminated by six months' notice on either side, and that in such an event the incoming tenant, or, if the farms in question were not let, the landlady or landlord, as the case iright be, should purchase from the tenant all the sheep bred and usually grazed, by him upon the farm at a price to fixed by a valuer, and if there was a, dispute between the valuers appointed by the respective parties, then the matter was to be settled by an arbitrator. Miss Simner gave notice that she would terminate the tenancy on Lady-day, 1893, and Mr Evans gave notice that he should require her to purchase the sheep on the farm under the terms of the lease. The valuers met on March 18th, 189S, and valued the 460 sheep then on the farm at 25s a piece. Tne animals were branded and delivered over to Miss Simner's representative. It appeared that in the district sheep bred and grazed on a farm fetched, when sold to an incoming tenant, a better price than they would if sold in the market, because, knowing the place, they do not stray or require so much attention from the shepherd. Miss Simner wasJ;o!d the market price of a sheep was about 16s. or 17s, and she refused to pay. The farmer then brought this action, and the defence substantially was that many of the sheep sold were not sheep that had been bred on the farm, but recently bought, in order to obtain a higher price than the market value, and that the custom, if the valuers were entitled to give consideration to it at all, must be taken reasonably. The learned Judge held that the lady was bound to buy all the sheep, and that there was no evidence that the valuers had given undue weight to the custom when agreeing on the value of the sheep. There were two rams which had been bought, and these he held were not bred" on the farm and he struck them out of the claim, and also allowed as a set off quarter's rent and some other items, and in the result judgment was entered for the farmer "for £549. The lady appealed and &sked the Court to say that the market value of the sheep was the price which alone the valuers ought to have agreed upon and to reduce the amount recovered under the judgment by some £270. Lord Justice A. L. Smith—But the price to be paid was to be fixed by two independent valuers and they fixed it at 25s a head. Mr Marshall—Then alternatively we ask for a new trial because the learned Judge was wrong in permitting the valuations based on a fictitious value attached to the sheep by an alleged custom to stand. If the valuers were justified in taking the custom into consideration at all, they were only justified in doing so to a reasonable extent. After further argument, the Lords Justices having intimated they were against the appellant Mr M'Call addressed the Court. It was very hard, he said, that a lady living at Westminster should be made to pay some f200 more for sheep than they were worth in the market because the valuers chose to base their calculation on an alleged Welsh custom. Lord Justice Smith—What has] the fact that the lady lives at Westminster to do with it ? She can travel by train to Wales and is a Welsh landowner and those who live in Rome must do as Rome does. (Laughter.) Mr M Call replied he had no doubt the lady was fully aware that she was a Welsh landowner and regretted it. (Laughter.) However that might be, there was evidence that the farm would only maintain 400 sheep and he pressed for a new trial, because the lady had been compelled to buy 460 as bred and grazed on the farm. He thought there was ample evidence that sixty of these were sheep that were, so to speak, grazed out. Lord Justice A. L. Smith— We will hear the other side on this one point. Mr Abel Thomas having briefly explained the shepherd's evidence upon which Mr M'Call relied, ord Justice A. L. Smith said this was an appli- cation to enter judgment for the appellant or alter natively for a new trial. How on earth, having regard to the facts proved, counsel could argue that judgment should be entered for the defendant he could not conceive, and he would say nothing more about that part of the case.' Then it was said that there ought to be a new trial because the learned Judge hadjbeen in error and had improperly permitted a valuation of these sheep to stand which had been made on a basis of fictitious value given to them because they were sheep that had been bred and usually grazed on the farms. • There was no evidence that that was the case, and he thought the learned Judge was perfectly right and agreed with him that the plaintiff had made out his case. The other lords justices concurring, the appeal was dismissed with costs.

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