Jones v Stevens

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date26 June 1822
Date26 June 1822
CourtExchequer

English Reports Citation: 147 E.R. 458

IN THE COURT OF EXCHEQUER

Jones
and
Stevens

[235] jonjw -o. stevkns. Wednesday, 26th June 1822. Evidence (in actions for libel and slander). - In an action for a libel on the Plaintiff, tending to injure his credit and reputation in his profession and business ot an attorney, and defamatory of him in his said profession and business, it was held to be sufficient evidence of the Plaintiff being an attorney, that it was proved by tho book of admissions produced by the proper officer, and that he practised as an attorney. - It was also decided to be no objection to maintaining such an action, that it appeared in evidence that during the time of the grievances stated in the declaration, the Plaintili' had omitted to take out his certificate as required by the l 7 Geo. III. c. 90, for more than a year ; but that he might still sue as an attorney for damagea iu consequence of a libel imputiug improper conduct to him iu his 11 PRICE, 238. JONKS V. STEVENS character pi attorney.-One writ produced, with three declarations, and three rules to plead in the same suit, is sufficient evidence of three actions having been commenced by such process.-Statements made in a, libel have the effect of dispensing with proof, on the part of u Plaintiff, of facts so stated, if the}' become necessary to, support the Plaintiff's case.-General evidence of the Plaintiff's bad character and ill repute in his business as a practising attorney can not be admitted either to contradict the allegation in the declaration, that the Plaintiff during, &. exercised and carried on the business of an attorney, with great credit and .reputation, with a view to mitigating damages on the general issue, or in support of :avertirents in the Defendant's pleas pleaded by way of justification that the Plaintiff was h disreputable professor and practitioner in the law. The case of The Eurf- of Leicester v. Waller (-! Campb. N. P. C.), denied by this Court to be law. - Pleading in Actions for Libel and Slander.-In declarations in actions for libel no unnecessary averment should be introduced, and regard should be had, in drawing such declarations, to the libel itself, which is now admissible as proof of all that is positively averred therein.-Pleas by way of justification, generally aspersing the character of the Plaintiff by averments, without stating particular acts of had conduct apposite to the justification of the Defendants, are not only demurrable, but ought to be demurred to, as due to the Court and to the Judge before whom the-action may be tried.-It is an erroneous notion that by demurring to a plea of justification the Plaintiff necessarily admits the truth of the slanders in a libel. That w-hich is well pleaded only is admitted. [Discussed, Scott v. umj iiun, 188:2, 8 Q. B. D. 500. Keferred to, Zieiwilieiy v. Laboudiere, [1893] 2 Q. B. lo.] The Plaintiff in this action on the case [for damages for a libelj which was tried before theiLord Chief Baron at the last sittings for Middlesex, obtained a verdict, damages 501.-the learned Judge reserving leave to the Defendant to move that a nonsuit might be entered on the points of law reserved, In the early part of the term, on the motion of [236] Brougham on the part of the Defendant, the Court granted a rule to shew cause why the verdict should not be set aside, and a nonsuit entered, or why there should not be a new trial had, on the .several objections which had been taken at Nisi Prius, arising upon the pleadings and the ftvidence given on the trial. Tbe declaration stated after the usual inducement that the Plaintiff was a good, true, honest, just, and faithful subject of this realm, and as such had always hitherto behaved and conducted himself, and, until the committing the .several grievances by the Defendant as therein after mentioned, was always reputed, &c. to be a person of good name, fame and credit, to wit at, &c. that at the time of committing the said grievances was, and for divers, to wit, ten years before that time elapsed, had beeu, and still was an attorney of the Court of our Lord the King of the Bench at Westminster aforesaid, and the profession and business of an Attorney during all the time aioresaid, used, exercised and canned on as well at Hanley in the county of Stafford, as at Stafford in the said county, with great credit and reputation, to wit, at Westminster, &c. aforesaid, and that before the committing of the said grievances, the said Plaintiff had commenced certain actions in His Majesty's Court of Exchequer, at Westminster, upon a certain bond or written obligation called a bail bond, against one Sanjuel Leake and certain other persons who had entered into the said bond, as bail or Sureties for the said Samuel Leake, the costs in which said actions had [237] by the proper officer of his Majesty's said Court been taxed at a certain sum of money, to wit, the sum of twenty-one pounds seventeen shillings and sixpence, the taxation of which said costs had been attended by a certain person by the said Plaintiff, before that time retained and employed as the agent of the said Plaintiff', in that behalf, to wit, at Westminster aforesaid, in the county last aforesaid, yet the said Defendant well knowing the premises, but contriving and wickedly and maliciously intending to injure the said Plaintiff iu his credit and reputation, in his said profession and business of an attorney as aforesaid, and to cause it to be suspected and believed that he the said Plaintiff had conducted himself dishonestly and improperly in his said profession and business of ait attorney, and to vex, harass, impoverish, and wholly ruin him the said Plaintiff, heretofore, to wit, on the llth day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty, to wit, at Westminster aforesaid, in the 460 JONES V. STEVENS 11 PRICE, 238. county of Middlesex aforesaid, wrongfully, maliciously and injuriously did compose, print, and publish, and cause and procure to be printed and published, a certain false, scandalous, malicious and defamatory libel of and concerning the said HainfcifT in the way of his said profession and business of an attorney, arid of and concerning the said actions, so by him commenced against the said Samuel I.eake and his bail on the said bond or written obligation as aforesaid, and of and concerning his the said Plaintiff's conduct in those actions, and of and concerning the coste thereof, in which said libel was and is contained, amongst other things the [238] falae, scandalous, malicious, defamatory and libellous matter following, of and concerning the said Plaintiff, in the way of his business and profession as an attorney, that is to say, "It is but justice to say that the agent (thereby meaning the person employed by the said Plaintiff'as his aganfc in the said actions so commenced by him, against the said Samuel Leake and his bail as aforesaid), whom I am told by a friend is a respectable man, admitted that he (meaning the said agent of the said Plaintiff as aforesaid) individually scorned to take tha money, but his client insisted on it. Now know, learned reader, that this immaculate client (meaning the said Plaintiff) is Thomas Jones of Hanley in the Potteries, with reference to whose character and conduct I refer you to his neighbours ; he is a man who, if you allow to speak for himself, is more sinned against by other men then he sins against them. He carries on business (meaning the said business arid profession of an attorney) at Hanley, and he had an assistant, in a cheap shop at Stafford, to carry on his business there, one of the tribe of journeymen tanners of the imme of Hammond. They rioted for a long time in their practices with profits satis factory to both, and the most benignant sensations towards each other; at length they quarrel, and their newspaper press groaned under their reiterated accusations, till Jones got the start of Hammond, and indicted him for not keeping the books with the aecuraey that the King's accountants do, and Hammond was transported at the last Stafford Sessions. While concord prevailed, they were par nobile fratrum [239] (thereby meaning and insinuating that the said Plaintiff was of as bad and infamous a character as the said Thomas Hammond), but poor Hammond cannot now, if he wished to do it, send for Exchequer subpoenas to warrant cognovits dated forward and kept } ack till the writ arrived which legalised them, and enabled him by the next post to send for an execution. On Hammond's trial several gentlemen and commoners, moved by malice and the instigation of the devil (no doubt Jones would say), ventured to swear that they would not believe Jones on hia oath, and if the reader refers to the Staffordshire Advertiser of the 15th of January, he will find some ludicrous reasons assigned as the grounds of their disbelief. " Mr. Jones attacked these witnesses in the next Staffordshire Advertiser. His philippic clearly proves he does not always write English, however he may have been injured, and it seems now the jackall (meaning the said Thomas Hammond) is gone, the lion is snoi-t of provender; for we tind at the end of his letter an advertisement for business, in these worda: 'P.S.-Informations of acts or expressions of certain individuals indicative of hostilities towards me will be thankfully received from respectable persons at my offices, at Hanley and Stafford.'" There ware four other counts in the declaration, in each of which the libel yvas charged to be " of and concerning the Plaintiff in the way of his aforesaid profusion add business of an attorney." [240] The declaration concluded thus : " by means of the committing of which said several grievances by the said Defendant as aforesaid, the Plaintiff had been and was greatly injured in his said good name, fame and credit, and brought into public scandal, infamy and disgrace, with and amongst all his neighbours and other good and...

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    • United Kingdom
    • House of Lords
    • 2 March 1961
    ...not, but that he ought not to have, a good reputation, and to admit evidence of this kind is in effect as was said in ( Jones v. Stevens 11 Price 235) to throw upon the plaintiff the difficulty of showing an uniform propriety of conduct during his whole life. It would give rise to intermina......
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