Legal action - West Calder Oil Co. v. Glasgow Oil Co., 1874

type: Companies - litigation

The Falkirk Herald
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West Calder Oil Co. v. Glasgow Oil Co.

Court of Session, Jury Trial - First Division

Friday, July 24. (Before the Lord President and a Jury.)

WEST CALDER OIL COMPANY v. GLASGOW OIL COMPANY. This was a case in which the pursuers claimed damages from the defenders for failure of the fulfilment a contract for delivery of crude oil. The pursuers stated that in July, 1872, they entered into a contract with the defenders, whereby the latter sold 175,000 gallons of their Broxburn horizontal oil at the price of 5 1/4d per gallon less 2 ½ per cent discount, put into the pursuers' tanks at the Broxburn works The contract was embodied in two letters of the pursuers and three of the defenders which were produced in the present action. In terms of the contract, the delivery of the oil should have commenced 20th August 1872 and have been given as follows:- 50,000 gallons during August and September 1872, and 25,000 gallons per months October, November, and December, and January and February 1873, but up to June 1873, when this action was raised, the only quantity delivered amounted to 1787 gallons, received on 18th September 1872. The price of crude oil having greatly risen since the contact was entered into, and the defenders having failed to procure a sufficient quantity elsewhere, they had been greatly inconvenienced in their arrangements the defenders' failure to supply them as contracted for.

The defenders averred that by the articles of association, which the suers' were bound to know, they were permitted to make oil only from shale supplied by Robert Bell, Broxburn, from the pits leased by him from the Earl of Buchan. By the correspondence founded on, the defenders made the contract referred to on condition that the pursuers supplied the tanks, and that in the event of a strike the miners who worked the shale for the defenders the contract should remain in abeyance that difficulty was overcome. The pursuers sent no tanks for oil till 16th September, and allowed delivery to be postponed. On 16th September a strike occurred of the miners, and at about the same time or shortly afterwards, a flood occurred, due to excessive rainfall, by which the pit was flooded. From both and each of these causes the defenders had not get shale, and were not able to overcome the difficulty till the date of the contract was cancelled. The pursuers' intimation of their claim for damages for alleged breach of contract put an end to further deliveries under it, and proceeded on the footing that such were not to made.

The pursuers averred, in answer to the latter statement, though this was denied by the defenders that there never was a strike in the pit, but that Mr Bell conducted the workings in the pit an unusual and improper manner, kept the roads there in very bad order and otherwise rendered the position the men in it unsatisfactory, while held inducements to them to go to his other pits beyond the area referred the agreement between him and the defenders the working in which pits was never stopped. The alleged " floods" could have been removed in two or three days, and the defenders refused repeated offers of a reasonable kind by Bell to supply them with shale in terms of the agreement. The issue laid before the jury was, whether the defenders, in terms of the letters referred to, sold pursuers 175,000 gallons of the defender's horizontal crude oil ; and whether the defenders, in breach the said contract, failed to deliver the said oil to the extent of 173,213 gallons, or any and what part thereof - to the loss, injury, and damage of the pursuers. The damages were laid at £2127, 1s, with interest thereon at 5 percent, per annum from 1st March 1873

Mr. Balfour was opening the case for the pursuers, and had not proceeded any length with his speech, when the Dean of Faculty intimated that the jury the Court might be saved any more trouble in the case. Council then retired from the Court, and after and interval of a few minutes they returned when intimation was made that the defenders had consented to a verdict favour of the pursuers – damages £1,500.

The Falkirk Herald, 30th July 1874