A Dispute over Faulty Bricks
From the Herts Advertiser, 6th June 1870
The plaintiff, George Bourne, a brickmaker, sued the defendant, Frederick Barford [Farmer, Townsend Farm, St Albans], to recover 10s. for work done. The summons was taken out against Messrs Barford and Charnock, but as it transpired that the latter was only the foreman, his name was struck out.
The plaintiff said that he had been engaged by Mr. Charnock to make bricks for the defendant at Beech Bottom, at a rate of 5s per thousand. On the 23rd or 24th ult., however, after he had finished a stack of 9460 bricks he was discharged, and paid only £1 17s. He applied for the balance, 10s., and as he could not obtain payment took out a summons.
Defendant said the quality not the quantity of the bricks was the subject of the dispute. Mr. Charnock informed him that though he paid 6d. per thousand extra in order to secure good workmanship, yet the plaintiff’s bricks were so bad as to be useless and unfit for burning. As it should not be expected that they should pay for the bad bricks, the foreman was requested to deduct a reasonable amount from plaintiff’s wages, discharge him, and pay him the balance. The result was the 10s. now sued for was stopped.
Plaintiff, in reply to questions, stated that the custom was to inspect the bricks in the stack before they were deposited in the kiln, and throw off all which were not sound and good. The foreman, however, instead of throwing off any had characterised the stack as good as any one could wish to see. Had a pug mill been provided, the bricks could have been made still better.
His Honour remarked that the summary mode adopted of jumping to, and deducting a lump sum, was not a business like manner of arriving at the desired conclusion. Seeing the bricks were not rejected while in the stack, he was satisfied the proper mode of making the deduction was not carried out. In the absence of the foreman he had no means of arriving at the proper amount of the disallowance. He therefore considered the plaintiff had established his claim and would accordingly give verdict for the amount asked, with costs, to be paid forthwith.
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