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United Kingdom House of Lords Decisions

You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> United Kingdom House of Lords Decisions >> Teacher v Calder [1899] UKHL 1 (24 July 1899)
Cite as: (1899) 7 SLT 153, [1899] UKHL 1, (1899) 1 F (HL) 39, [1899] AC 451

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24 July 1899


Lord Watson.—Upon April 11, 1889, a minute of agreement was executed between the late Adam Teacher, wine and spirit merchant in Glasgow, of the first part, and the respondent, James Calder, timber merchant, Glasgow, carrying on business there under the name or firm of Calder & Co., of the second part. The agreement,on the narrative that the second party had applied to the first party for capital to be applied by him to extend and carry on his business as timber merchant, which the first party had agreed to give, in consideration of receiving the interest and share of profits or additional interest, in terms of the Act 28 and 29 Vict. cap. 86, contained, inter alia, the following stipulations, which the parties bound themselves to observe:—

The first party agreed to advance in loan to the respondent, to be put by him as capital into his business of Calder & Co., the sum of £15,000 between the 1st day of May and the 1st day of November,1889. The first party also agreed to become cautioner to the Commercial Bank of Scotland, Limited, for £20,000 to be advanced to the respondent for the purposes of his said business.

It was agreed that the respondent should pay to Mr Teacher, in the first place, interest upon his loan of £15,000 at the rate of £5 per centum per annum, beginning the first annual payment at the term of Whitsunday, 1890; and, in the second place, by way of additional interest, such further sum as should be equal to 3712 per cent of the net profits of the respondent's business of Calder & Co., under deduction at the rate of £5 per centum per annum upon the capital of the respondent, and of any partner he might thereafter assume, and upon the said loan of £15,000, and also under deduction of the interest on the said bank credit or other interest, and on any addition to and accumulation of capital which under the provisions of the minute of agreement might be added thereto during the continuance of the said loan and bank credit, and also of the other charges and expenses of the business, and allowing a reasonable depreciation on plant, but not deducting anything for salaries to partners.

It was agreed that the books of Calder & Co. should be balanced as on the 30th day of April 1889, the day before the minute came into operation, and that the respondent's capital in the stock and plant of the firm should be valued and ascertained. In the event of the first party being dissatisfied with the valuation, it was provided that the amount of the respondent's capital stock should be valued by two arbiters, with power to them to appoint an oversman in case of their differing in opinion. It was also provided that the respondent, in the event of his capital not amounting to at least £15,000, should put into the business a sum sufficient to raise the capital to that amount.

The fifth article of the minute, which relates to the ascertainment of the net profits of the business of Calder & Co. divisible between the first and second party, has formed the main subject of controversy in this appeal. It stipulates that—“The books of the said firm shall thereafter be balanced annually on the 30th April, and shall be audited by Messrs M'Clelland, Mackinnon, & Blyth, chartered acountants, Glasgow, or other auditors to be mutually agreed upon and appointed by both parties hereto, and the certificate of the auditors shall be binding on both parties as finally fixing the amount of the profits in each year, and the foresaid interest or percentage payable to the first party.”

The minute was to continue in force for the term of five years, but either of the parties had right to bring it to a termination at the end of three years, upon his giving the other party six months' notice in writing prior to the 1st day of May 1892. It was stipulated that the respondent, Mr Calder, and any other partners that might be assumed by him into the firm of Calder & Co., should have power to draw interest on capital as well as their share of the profits of the business, or might leave them in the business as capital, bearing interest at £5 per cent per annum, but that no capital should be withdrawn from the business so long as Mr Teacher's loan was unpaid and his liability for the bank credit of £20,000 undischarged. The minute also provided that, in the event of any disputes or differences arising as to the agreement between the parties thereto or their representatives in regard to the agreement, the business of Calder & Co., or the conduct or winding-up thereof, the same should be and were thereby submitted to the amicable decision, final sentence, and decree-arbitral of William Mackinnon, accountant in Glasgow, whom failing of Andrew Mackinnon, bank-agent there, as arbiters in succession mutually chosen, whose decision or decisions, interim or final, should be conclusive and binding upon both parties.

After the minute of agreement was completed, Mr Teacher called with it upon Mr William Mackinnon, the leading member of the firm of accountants who had been appointed to audit the books of Calder & Co. He did not see Mr Mackinnon, and called again at the office, when he had an interview with another partner, Mr Robert Blyth, to whom he gave the minute of agreement, and, after discussing its terms with that gentleman, left it with him to be communicated to Mr Mackinnon. Mr Blyth on the same day made an abstract of the terms of the minute; and, according to his evidence, he gave back the minute to Mr Teacher, and believes that he handed the abstract to Mr Mackinnon on his return to the office. He says, “I had nothing more to do with the matter, and I took no more concern with it whatever.” Nothing more is heard of the abstract, and it is not said or suggested that it was seen or read by anyone in the office save Mr Mackinnon, who died not long after he received it, until it was discovered among some other papers in the year 1894.

The parties to the agreement, the late Mr Teacher and the respondent, Mr Calder, understood and believed that the accountants, to whom they had entrusted the function of auditing the annual balance-sheets of Calder & Co., were cognisant of and would be guided by its terms in the discharge of their duty as auditors. Mr Teacher had done all that he could to instruct them in the details of the agreement, and the respondent in his evidence states, “Mr Teacher told me he had given the agreement to the auditors, and I understood he had given them instructions to attend to his interests in the audit,” and again, “I had learned from Mr Teacher during that year that he had intimated the agreement to the auditors, and I took no further part in the matter.”

The books of Calder & Company were balanced as at April 30 in each of the years 1890,1891,1892, and 1893 by Charles D. Gairdner, who became a partner of the auditors' firm in the year 1888. Mr Gairdner had been for Some years previously a clerk of the firm, and he had been in use under the supervision of Mr Blyth, who retired from the firm in 1891, to balance the books of the respondent, Mr Calder.Mr Gairdner, when examined as a witness, states,—“From 1888 onward to 1893 I continued the audit of the books exactly on the same principle as I had conducted it prior to that date. I got no instructions whatever from anyone to conduct the audit in any different way after 1889 from what I had done before. I have seen the agreement which was entered into between Mr Teacher and Mr Calder in 1889. The agreement itself I first saw late in 1894, but some time before that I had discovered in my office a memorandum in Mr Blyth's handwriting containing a note of the particulars of the agreement. I discovered that entirely by accident—I think it must have been about the spring of 1894. Until I saw the memorandum I did not know what were the terms of the agreement between Mr Calder and Mr Teacher. Until I discovered the document No. 308 I was not aware there was any such agreement between Mr Calder and Mr Teacher.”

Upon the completion of Mr Gairdner's audits and upon his information his firm issued certificates in these or similar terms:—“We have examined the foregoing balance-sheet and profit and loss account as at 30th April, and compared them with the relative accounts in the ledger and found them correct.” In the course of his employment Mr Gairdner became aware, from entries in Mr calder's private books, which he also audited, that Mr Teacher had advanced the sum of £15,000; but he was not aware that Mr Teacher had granted a cash credit for £20,000 upon which his claim was postponed to the debt due by Mr Calder to the bank. He had on the occasion of each audit numerous meetings with Mr Teacher and Mr Calder separately, and he learnt from them the extent of their interests respectively in the profits of Calder & Company, but neither of these gentlemen ever referred to the existence of an agreement or to its terms. In that statement Mr Gairdner is corroborated by the respondent, who says,—“I understood it” (i.e., the agreement) “was a well known in M'Clelland, Mackinnon, & Blyth's office as my own, and that every member of the firm knew all about it.” Unfortunately the belief of Mr Calder as to the firm's knowledge of the agreement, which he shared with Mr Teacher, was not justified by the fact. The accountant who made the audit was a member of the firm, but he was not aware of the terms of the agreement, and he did not know that, in accordance with the fifth article, his audit was to be final and binding upon both parties. So far as he knew he was merely employed by the parties to make a professional audit for their mutual convenience, and he had no reason to suppose that if they, or either of them, were dissatisfied with his determination upon any point, it was not open to them to have it corrected elsewhere, and if necessary in a Court of law.

Mr Gairdner himself gives evidence relating to these points which appears to me to be of considerable importance. He began the audit in July 1894 of the balance-sheet of Calder & Company for the previous April 30, which had never been completed, having then the knowledge of the terms of the agreement which he had acquired from the discovery of Mr Blyth's abstract. He says,—“Having become aware of the terms of the agreement I examined the books differently on that occasion from what I had done formerly, because the charge against profits might require to be differently treated. On examining the books at that time I found certain items which appeared to me not to be satisfactory.” He also, in reply to the question,—“Supposing you made an audit in that capacity of arbiter between parties, would you audit differently?” states,“I would analyse the allocation between capital and revenue somewhat differently.”

The learned counsel for the respondent strenuously contended that the evidence given by Charles D. Gairdner ought not to be believed, and that your Lordships ought to hold it proved as matter of fact that Gairdner was, throughout the years for which he completed an audit, in the full knowledge of the terms of the minute of agreement. I do not think it necessary to criticise their argument minutely. It mainly consisted in the suggestion that because Mr Gairdner had frankly admitted his non-recollection of a variety of trivial circumstances which would not naturally have been retained by his or any ordinary memory he must be held to have spoken falsely when he affirmed that he had neither seen nor heard the tenor of the agreement until he discovered Mr Blyth's abstract. I have carefully studied the evidence, and I cannot find the slightest ground for any imputation against the credibility of Mr Gairdner. In the Court of Session, the Lord Ordinary (Low), before whom Mr Gairdner was examined, accepted his testimony. His Lordship indicated an opinion that notwithstanding the audit Mr Teacher would have been entitled to an accounting if it had been shewn that the ignorance of the auditor was due to the fault of the respondent, whom he acquits of all blame in the matter. He does not directly impute any fault or want of due care to Mr Teacher, who equally with Mr Calder acted in the honest belief that the auditor knew the terms of the agreement. But his Lordship seems to have thought that if the respondent was not to blame for the ignorance of their auditor, his procedure was binding upon Mr Teacher. The Lord President (Lord Robertson) and Lord M'Laren, who were the majority of the First Division, assumed the veracity of Mr Gairdner's evidence. The Lord President said,—“It happened, however, that the books were audited in each year, not by Mr Blyth, but by his partner Mr Gairdner, and the pursuer's point is that Mr Gairdner says (and I hold this to be proved) that he never saw the agreement nor Mr Blyth's precis of it.” Lord Adam, who differed from his colleagues, in the result rested his judgment upon the proved ignorance of Mr Gairdner.

I should have much hesitation in differing from the opinion of these learned Judges upon a pure question of fact; but an examination of the evidence, with all the light that was thrown upon it by the arguments of learned counsel, has satisfied me that the testimony of Mr Gairdner is candid and truthful, and is corroborated by all the other evidence in the case.

In 1894, being the last year of the agreement between Mr Teacher and Mr Calder, disputes arose between them which it is unnecessary to detail, and the result was that the audit of the books of Calder & Company as at 30th April 1894 has never been completed. An unsuccessful attempt was made to refer to a neutral accountant; and, one of the two arbiters appointed by agreement for the settlement of differences arising out of it having died, the other, Andrew Mackinnon, bank-agent, eventually declined to accept the reference.

Mr Teacher, who is now represented in this appeal by his testamentary trustees, in March 1896 brought the present action against Mr Calder. It concludes, first, for a full accounting as to the profits of the business of Calder & Company for the year ending 30th April 1890, and the four following years, and for payment to the pursuer of the share of net profits to which he was entitled under the minute of agreement; and, second, for payment of the sum of £15,000 sterling. In the last place, it concludes for reduction, if necessary, of the several audits made by Mr Gairdner for the years 1890,1891,1892, and 1893, and of the relative certificates granted by the firm of which he was a partner under their firm names of M'Clelland, Maekinnon, & Blyth, and M'Clelland, Mackinnon, & Company.

The Lord Ordinary (Low), on 28th May 1897, pronounced an interlocutor, by which he “dismisses the action, and decerns; finds the pursuer liable in expenses.” On a reclaiming note by Mr Teacher their Lordships pronounced the interlocutor appealed from, by which they “recall the said interlocutor, decern against the defender for payment to the pursuer of £250 sterling of damages: Quoad ultra dismiss the action; find the defender entitled to two-thirds of the taxed amount of expenses.”

The argument for the pursuers in the Courts below, as it was at the bar of the House, appears to have been addressed to three different points. First of all, it was contended that the audits made by Mr Gairdner were not in terms of the minute of agreement, and ought, if necessary, to be reduced and set aside and an account taken of the business profits of Calder & Company during the currency of the agreement. In the second place, it was maintained that, assuming the audits made by Mr Gairdner to be conclusive, there were certain erroneous entries on the balance-sheets which he had passed which ought to be corrected and effect given to the correction, in as much as the errors had been occasioned by the fraud or fraudulent misrepresentation of the respondent, Mr Calder. The principal items said to have been thus falsified were—(1) a bad debt of £3096, 12s. 6d., due to the firm of Calder & Company by Rucker & Company, their agents at Riga, which it was alleged had become irrecoverable, and ought to have been written off before the minute of agreement became operative; (2) certain entries in the “depreciation of plant account”; (3) certain entries in the “plant repairs account” (4) entries in the “stock account”; and (5) entries in the “suspense account.”In the third place, the pursuer claimed substantial damages in respect of the respondent's breach of contract, by drawing his capital out of the firm of Calder & Company, and employing it elsewhere, without the consent of Mr Teacher, to such an extent as to reduce his capital in the business below the amount stipulated in the agreement.

The first, and in my opinion the nicest, point to be decided in this appeal is involved in the question whether the audits made by Mr Gairdner can be rightly regarded as having been made by him in due fulfilment of the duty committed to his firm of M'Clelland, Mackinnon, & Blyth, by the fifth article of the agreement of 11th April 1889.To my apprehension that is a question which depends upon the law of Scotland. I am quite aware that legislation, comparatively recent, has done much to assimilate the laws of reference or arbitration in the two countries, but it has not yet made them quite the same. The Lord Chancellor (Cranworth) in Drew v. Leburn stated that, as the law of England stood before the Act 3 and 4 Will. IV., c. 42; “If parties submitted a matter for arbitration to a private tribunal to be decided by a selected person, either of them might at any time, without assigning any ground, revoke that submission.” In Scotland, from the earliest times, a concluded contract to submit the determination of any point to the opinion or judgment of a private person cannot, unless the person referred to die or refuse to act, be revoked, save by consent of all the parties submitting, and ousts all interference by the ordinary Courts of the country. The fifth article of the minute of agreement was a concluded contract binding both parties to accept as final the decision of the firm of M'Clelland, Mackinnon, & Blyth, or of any one of its members, upon the yearly balances of the books of Calder & Company, and the ascertainment of the net profits of its business to be divided between them in terms of the agreement.

It was argued for the respondent that the contract embodied in the fifth article did not constitute a proper arbitration. I freely admit that it did not contemplate a formal arbitration to be followed by an award, but it was none the less a contract of submission or reference which committed to the referee the decision of any point which might arise in the course of his audit. In my opinion the contract was of the same nature as a proper arbitration, in this respect—that it came within the well-known rule: “Seeing it is from the consent of the parties submitting that the whole power of arbiters is derived, their award or decree, if it be not given in conformity to those powers, is null, not being founded upon any proper authority.” (Ersk. Instit. bk. iv. tit. 3, s. 32).

It was also maintained for the respondent that it was not the intention of Mr Teacher and the respondent that the accountant, acting under the fifth article, should know the terms of their agreement or of the reference which they made to him. I do not doubt that parties may agree to accept as final the decision or opinion of a referee who knows nothing except the question put to him, and is not to be informed who they are and what are their respective interests, but it must in that case very clearly appear that they so agreed. To arrive at the conclusion that there was any such agreement in the present case would be contrary to all the evidence. I think it is beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Teacher and the respondent both contemplated and intended that the audit provided by the fifth article should be made by an accountant who was conversant with the terms of the minute of agreement, and also knew that as between them his audit was to be final and conclusive. It seems to me to be equally beyond doubt that throughout the period during which audits were made by Mr Gairdner, the parties to the minute of agreement understood and believed that Mr Gairdner knew its terms.

I have no desire to disparage the conscientiousness of referees, whether professional or not, but when parties agree to be bound by their opinion or decision as final, and also agree that they shall be informed of its finality, I am of opinion that the referee who gives an opinion or decision without knowing that it was meant to be conclusive does not act in conformity with the power that was conferred upon him. The objection in this case to Mr Gairdner's audit is deeper still, because he was ignorant of the terms of the minute of agreement and of the precise nature of the interest conferred by it upon Mr Teacher. Mr Gairdner himself states that after he came to know the details of the minute in the year 1894 he no longer regarded the audits which had been made by him as satisfactory, and that with that knowledge he would have audited the books of Calder & Company somewhat differently. I see no reason to discredit that statement. The evidence in this case shews that there may be considerable difference of professional opinion upon, matters of audit, and I cannot resist the conclusion that Mr Gairdner would have audited differently had he known the terms of the agreement, and also that his determination was final. If that were so, I do not think he can be said to have made the audit contemplated by the agreement.

The Lord Ordinary indicated an opinion that if Mr Gairdner's ignorance of the terms of the minute of agreement had been traceable to the fault or negligence of the respondent Mr Calder, Mr Teacher probably would have been entitled to decree for an accounting. That conclusion does not necessarily suggest that his Lordship thought the ignorance of Mr Gairdner was in some sense due to the fault of Mr Teacher, and for that proposition I can find no evidence whatever. Mr Teacher did all that he could be reasonably expected to do for the purpose of informing the accountant firm and its partners, and the non-communication of the contents of the minute to Mr Gairdner, the partner who made the audit, was entirely due to the ill-health and subsequent death of Mr Mackinnon, and to Mr Blyth assuming that he had done all that was necessary in giving his abstract to Mr Mackinnon. It appears to me that a mutual mistake as to Mr Gairdner's knowledge of the agreement for which neither of the parties to it was responsible was as good a ground in Scottish law for disregarding his audit and allowing an accounting as if the mistake had been occasioned by the fault or negligence of one of them.

The two learned Judges who formed the majority of the Division were of opinion that Mr Gairdner's evidence was trustworthy, and they did not impute his ignorance of the agreement to the fault or negligence of either Mr Teacher or the respondent. But they were of opinion that Mr Gairdner knew so much that he was in substantially the same position as if he had known the full terms of the agreement, and that his audit was necessarily the same as if he had been in possession of that fuller knowledge. Their conclusion appears to me to labour under a double vice in this respect: (1) it discards the referee's own statement that he would have audited differently, and (2) it makes a new agreement for the parties which they did not make, and probably never would have made, for themselves.

I do not consider it necessary to discuss at length any of the other questions which were argued at the bar. I agree with your Lordships in thinking that the appellants, the trustees, have failed to substantiate any of the charges of fraud or misrepresentation brought against the respondent; and that the respondent ought, accordingly, to be assoilzied from the conclusions of the summons in so far as rested upon these allegations. I also agree with those of your Lordships who are of opinion that there is no ground for increasing the amount of damages for which the respondent has been found liable in respect of his breach of contract.

Lord Shand.—I am also of the opinion which has been expressed by my noble and learned friend on all the points which he has mentioned.

The House is about to affirm the decision of the Court of Session in reference to the charges of fraud which have been brought against the respondent and which the appellants, Mr Teacher's trustees, have failed to make out, and also in regard to the amount of damages for which a decree has been given. I shall only detain your Lordships by saying a few words on the subject of the only point on which the House is differing from the judgment of the Court of Session.

I think it is clear upon the facts as they appear in the proof that Mr Gairdner was not aware of the terms of the minute of agreement under which he was acting practically as an arbiter, or as the auditor whose finding was to be final between the parties, and I think it is further clear that neither party was to blame for that circumstance. Mr Teacher had done his best to make the terms of the agreement known, but unfortunately Mr Blyth, to whom they were communicated, had not handed on the agreement, and in point of fact its terms did not come to the knowledge of Mr Gairdner. In those circumstances for four or five years (I am not sure which) Mr Gairdner made the audit believing that he was simply acting, as his firm had done for a considerable time before, in an ordinary audit of a business firm with a view simply to reporting to the partners how matters stood between them. He was not aware that he was acting in a matter on which his judgment on any point that occurred to him in the course of his investigation would be final, and that Ms certificates when granted would fix finally the sums which were due from the one party to the other, or the sums which were due to Mr Teacher, the appellant. Under those circumstances I agree with my noble and learned friend in thinking that that accounting must now be opened up. It appears to me that the evidence, especially the evidence of Mr Gairdner himself, shews that if he had known the position which he was truly to occupy under the minute of agreement his audit would have been different.

The Lord Ordinary, when he sent the case originally for proof, put in a short but clear light the difference between the two positions of an auditor acting as an arbiter, and an auditor merely reporting to the firm how their books stood. He says,—“In my opinion the pursuer was entitled to have the books audited in knowledge of the agreement and of the purpose of the audit. There are many matters—such as the value of the stock, the amount to be written off for depreciation, the striking off of debts as bad, and such like—which an accountant auditing the books merely for the satisfaction of the sole partner would not investigate closely if that partner was satisfied, but which he would investigate closely if he knew that the purpose of the audit was to fix finally the share of the profits to which a party who had lent large sums to the firm was to be entitled. If Mr Gairdner was not informed of the purpose of the audits, and of the effect which was to be given to the balance of profits brought out, I do not think that the audit can be regarded as an audit within the meaning of the agreement.”In that statement I entirely concur.

Again, I find it was put to Mr Gairdner himself in the evidence he gave that he had not known the character of this audit and the finality that was to be given to his findings. He is asked,—“Did you do in this case just what you generally do when employed by a trader to audit in his interest? (A.) Yes. (Q.) Supposing you made an audit in the capacity of arbiter between parties, would you audit differently? (A.) I would analyse the allocation between capital and revenue somewhat differently? (Q.) You mean in the case of a partnership limited to a few years? (A.) Yes, and acting as arbiter. (Q.) Why would you do that? (A.) A man trading on his own account might charge up a number of entries to revenue which should be debited to capital account if there were other interests.” Then he is asked,—“ Then had you at any time in signing these docquets the impression that you were giving an arbiter's award? (A.) No.”

It is true, as has been observed by the learned Judges of the First Division, that Mr Gairdner was made aware that Mr Teacher had some interest in the profits, and no doubt it is a consideration which has to some extent raised a difficulty in my mind as to whether or not I should agree in what is now proposed, that the fact of his knowing of this interest in those profits shewed him at least that there was a counter interest to be attended to. But I have come to the conclusion that it was necessary in order to the proper discharge of his functions that Mr Gairdner should not only know that there was an interest, but should know specifically what that interest was, and should carefully look into the matter and see that that interest was properly guarded. He did not know what the interest was at all, and he tells us himself when he became aware of that interest that he is satisfied he would have audited the accounts somewhat differently had he known of it, and accordingly when he became aware of it he at once made the parties aware of his position.

I have only further to say that I think the analogy which has been suggested between this case and the case of counsel whose opinion is asked, without his being told that it is to be final and binding between certain parties, is a misleading analogy, and can have no application to a case like this. If counsel has merely a question of law before him, he has only to deal with it as such, and whether it is to be binding upon one party or upon a dozen parties is of no consequence. His opinion and answer will be the same. But an accountant has a great deal more to do than to give an opinion upon matters of law or of accounting. He has, in a case like Mr Gairdner's, in making his audit, to gather many facts for himself by independent inquiry; he has to ascertain the details of the business, and he has to put the facts together and then to draw inferences from them. A person in these circumstances is in a totally different position from counsel when giving an opinion on a question of law on facts supplied to him.

I am of opinion with your Lordship that the judgment which is proposed, reversing the decision of the Court of Session on one point, ought to be pronounced by this House.

Lord Davey.—I confess it is with some regret that I feel obliged to concur in your Lordships' opinion that the case must be sent back to the Court of Session to take the accounts between these parties. I regret it, first, because I am not satisfied that any substantial wrong or injustice has been done to the pursuer by the mode in which the accounts have been audited by Mr Gairdner; and, secondly, because I am of opinion that no blame whatever is to be attached to Mr Calder for Mr Gairdner's failure to take the accounts in accordance with the minute of agreement of 11th April 1889. He assumed, and had the right to assume, that Mr Gairdner's firm were in possession of the full particulars of that agreement, and that Mr Gairdner, on behalf and in the name of his firm, was auditing the accounts on the basis of the agreement, and so as to bind Mr Teacher and himself.

But, my Lords, I cannot dissent from the position of Lord Adam that a party cannot be held to be bound by an audit under an agreement of which the auditor was ignorant, and in particular when he was ignorant that his audit was to be conclusive between the parties. No doubt the reference and submission to the accountants was not in strictness an arbitration to be followed by an award or decree-arbitral, but it partook of the character of an arbitration in this respect—that the decision of the accountants was intended to bind the rights of the parties, and when made would have the effect of depriving both parties of their recourse to the ordinary Courts. I think it appears from the evidence that Mr Gairdner never intended to give a decision having this effect, and for aught that appears he was under the impression that Mr Teacher was at liberty to challenge his decision by suit in the Court of Session.

Of course, parties may expressly or by implication agree to be bound by the decision of a person who does not know that his opinion is to have that effect, as when parties agree to accept the opinion of counsel on a joint case submitted to him on behalf of both parties. But there is nothing of that kind in the case before your Lordships. On the contrary, both parties assumed, and had the right to assume, that Mr Gairdner was properly instructed. It is no answer to say that the certificates are those of the firm, and the firm were in possession of the agreement through Mr Blyth. It is a question of fact—were the certificates relied on by the respondent in fact made in accordance with the agreement, or were they made alio intuitu?

One may feel some legitimate surprise that the partner of an experienced firm of accountants intrusted with the performance of an important item of the firm's business should not have been put in possession of the proper materials, and also that Mr Gairdner himself, when he knew, as he did, at a very early stage, that Mr Teacher was entitled to three-eighths of the profits and was interested in the audit, did not ask to be furnished with the agreement giving Mr Teacher his rights, the contents of which might materially affect his audit. But I do not feel at liberty to question Mr Gairdner's positive statement that he did not know of the agreement, and that he would have audited differently if he had known of it.

The condescendence contains numerous and detailed charges of fraud against the respondent. The Lord Ordinary and the learned Judges in the Inner-House were of opinion that these charges had entirely failed. The charges were repeated at the bar of this House, but I believe all your Lordships agree on this point with the Courts below.On one point only, that relating to Rucker's debt, the Lord President, while negativing any fraudualent intention on the respondent's part, expressed an opinion adverse to him on the merits. As the accounts have to be taken, I will not express any opinion on this or any other point arising on the accounts. I will only say that in my opinion each question should be considered by the auditor on its merits, and unprejudiced by any judicial dictum.

There only remains the question of damages for the breach by the respondent of his agreement not to withdraw his capital. It is admitted, and indeed appears on the face of the accounts, that the respondent did withdraw large sums for the purposes of employing them in other businesses carried on by him. The learned Dean of Faculty claimed to follow these sums, and sought to make the respondent account to the appellants for the profits derived by the use of them. The contention was a novelty unsupported by either authority or principle. The money withdrawn was not Mr Teacher's in any sense, and he had no interest in it except to have it employed in the respondent's timber business. But his representatives are entitled to damages for the loss he sustained by the respondent's breach of the agreement so to employ it. There is evidence that money could at that time he profitably employed, say at 8 per cent per annum, in the timber business. But there is no evidence of any business being lost by the respondent, or of his being unable to tender for any contract from want of capital, and there is some affirmative evidence to the contrary. It also appears that the capital withdrawn was to some extent at any rate replaced for the purpose of trading by money borrowed from the bank, and interest at 5 per cent was allowed on the money withdrawn, and the like rate only paid on the money so borrowed. This was, of course, wrong on the respondent's part, as it exposed Mr Teacher's loan to unnecessary risk, but his loan has now been paid in full, and the only element of damage is the loss of profit or income. On the whole, taking all the circumstances into consideration, I am unable to say that the appellants, Mr Teacher's trustees, have made out to my satisfaction that Mr Teacher suffered any larger damages by the respondent's breach of his agreement than the sum which has been awarded to them by the Court of Session.

I concur in the order which has been proposed by my noble and learned friend on the woolsack.

1 F(HL) 39

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