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Vasanji Moolji Vs. Karsondas Tejpal - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCommercial
CourtMumbai
Decided On
Case NumberO.C.J. Suit No. 1493 of 1925
Judge
Reported inAIR1928Bom270; (1928)30BOMLR486
AppellantVasanji Moolji
RespondentKarsondas Tejpal
Excerpt:
.....procuring a lender-principal borrowing money from the. same lender through another broker-commission agent who introduced business entitled to brokerage.;the defendant engaged the plaintiff as his agent to negotiate a loan of rupees four lacs on the security of his property. the plaintiff arranged with a bank which was prepared to lend money up to forty per cent, of the value of the property. those terms did not suit the defendant and the matter was dropped. a few months later, the defendant borrowed through another broker a sum of rs. 1,10,000 from the same bank on the security of a portion of his property. the plaintiff having sued to recover his brokerage on the transaction :-;that the plaintiff was entitled to recover, for all that he was employed to do was to find a party..........(1863) 14 c.b. (n.s.) 681. 'did the agent find a purchaser' ?, the ease there being one of a house agent employed to sell a house, or whether we apply the principle underlying green v. lucas (1875) 31 l.t. 731, on appeal (1876) 33 l.t. 581 which is, in the case of a loan broker 'whether the money was procured by the agent, in determinig which question it must be considered whether the plaintiff did everything he could do by way of finding a lender and bringing him into touch with the defendants'-whichever, i say, of these tests is applied, the question seems to me to be much what i have indicated, was everything done by the agent which he was employed to do? the same principle we find expressed in fisher v. drewett (1878) 39 l.t. 253, viz., whether the agent had done all that he.....
Judgment:

Crump, J.

1. In the month of August 1924 the defendant desired to raise a loan on three properties, and he employed the plaintiff as a money broker to find a lender. There is some dispute as to what were the terms of employment, but it is really clear enough that the rate of commission payable to the plaintiff was to be two per cent. That this is so is apparent from the defendant's statement in the course of the evidence that he would have paid the plaintiff two per cent, had he succeeded in finding the loan, And the defendant also states that that is the customary rate of commission on loans on mortgages, What the defendant says about the contract is as follows:-

I said to Mulraj that I wanted him to get me a loan of four lacs on an equitable mortgage of my three properties. There was no question of a legal mortgage. I gave him the names of the three properties. I did not tell him what they were worth, nor did ho ask. Nothing was said as to the rate of interest, I would have accepted nine per cent.

2. The plaintiff says upon the same point:-.

About August 15 defendant told me he wanted a loan of four lacs on an equitable mortgage of three properties (the names of which are given). He said he wanted a loan at 12 as, (nine per cent.) to pay off a decree against him. He asked me to raise a loan of four lacs. I said I should take two per cent, commission according to the practice in the market.

3. Upon those statements there does not seem to be much room for doubt as to the nature of the contract, The plaintiff was to find a party willing to advance up to rupees four laca on equitable mortgage of the defendant's three properties and the defendant was to pay to the plaintiff's commission at the rate of two per cent, on the amount of the loan so to be made.

4. Now there are certain facts in the ease which are not in dispute, and I would clear them off before dealing with the questions that arise for consideration, I may premise my remarks by saying that defendant admits that the plaintiff told him that he would endeavour to obtain a loan from the Allahabad Bank as he was on very good terms with the Manager, Mr. Forman. It is further established by the evidence of the plaintiff and Mr. Forman that the plaintiff' approached Mr. Forman with reference to a loan on the defendant's three properties. Mr. Forman evidently has no very clear recollection of the details of the matter, and I prefer, in view of that fact, the plaintiff's statement that the three properties were mentioned at the first interview. The plaintiff had no reason to keep back any details, and he is much more likely to remember exactly what took place than Mr. Forman for whom this was one of many similar transactions. On the matter being broached.

Mr. Forman suggested the bank would be willing to lend up to forty per cent, of the value of the property if they were satisfied as to the title, at nine per cent, interest. According to Mr. Forman whose evidence may be accepted subject to due allowance for the time that has elapsed, the plaintiff went away, and returned about two weeks later and made another proposal for a loan of ten lacs, four lacs on the mortgage and six lacs against certain goods. Mr. Forman refused to make any advance against the goods, but was willing to make an advance against the property to the extent he indicated.

5. At this point of the case there begins a direct conflict of evidence. The plaintiff's story is that he reported to the defendant the result of his first interview with Mr. Forman. The defendant then made a further suggestion as to the proposal to raise ten lacs, and the plaintiff, after seeing Mr. Forman, again told the defendant that the first proposal was accepted, but not the second. The defendant then said he would try and see whether he could Bell the property, as he had a number of other claims to meet, and if he could not do so, he would accept the bank's offer. The plaintiff says he had five or six interviews with the defendant upon this matter, but that nothing was actually done beyond what has already been stated. The matter remained then in abeyance until October, and some time in October the plaintiff chanced to be in the Allahabad Bank, and there found one Kanji Dwarkadas who was in the employ of the firm managed by the defendant, and learned from Kanji that the defendant was actually raising a loan from the bank upon some of these properties. The plaintiff thereupon told Kanji that he was entitled to his commission, and Kanji said that if he would get a letter from the bank that the business was first introduced by him he would see that his commission was paid. The plaintiff, therefore, wrote to the bank on November 5, and certain correspondence ensued between the parties which may be conveniently set out at this stage. The plaintiff's letter to the bank dated November 5 runs as follows:-

We beg to draw your kind attention to our proposal for a loan to Mr. Karsondas Tejpal on his Thakoredwar properties and also for advance for him against colour purchasers' hundis.

As you have now agreed to accept a part of the proposal that was placed before you by us, we shall thank you to confirm our letter that we were the first to place the business before you as the same is required by Mr. Karsondas Tejpal before paying us our brokerage.

6. To that the bank replied :-

We are in receipt of your letter of the 5th instant, and as requested beg to state that the proposal of advances to the abovenamed gentleman was placed before us in the first instance by your firm.

7. The plaintiffs thereupon sent to the defendants a copy of this letter from the bank with their letter of November 7, on the following terms:-

As desired by your Mr. Kauji Dwarkadas, we are forwarding to you here-with the copy of the letter from the Allahabad Bank Ltd.

We shall thank you therefore to send us your cheque for the amount of our brokerage at two per cent, and oblige.

8. The defendant apparently sent no answer, and on November 14, the plaintiff's sent a reminder. On November 15 the defendant replied as follows:-

I have received your letter dated November 7, 1924, and also a reminder dated November 14.

I am not liable to pay any brokerage to you. No doubt a proposal to advance rupees four lacs on my property was placed before the Allahabad Bank Ltd. through you some time in August last. The Allahabad Bank declined to entertain the proposal and the matter dropped.

After a considerable interval Mr. Popatlai Lalkibhai, broker, approached me about the matter and a fresh proposal was made by Mr. Popatlal on my behalf V to the Allahabad Bank and the same was ultimately accepted and the loan has been made as the result of that proposal. As the loan was secured through Mr. Popatlal as a broker, I have paid brokerage to Mr. Popatlal and regret, I cannot entertain your claim.

I have shown your letters to Mr. Kanji Dwarkadas as you refer to him. Mr. Kanji informs me that you sent to him through Mr. Ratilal Subhedar the letter from tho Allahabad Bank to you and he merely stated that you might communicate with me. It is absolutely untrue that Mi-. Kanji at any time promised payment to you or that you had a claim to payment.

9. I now come to the defendant's story, which is, shortly, that he had only one interview with the plaintiff and that some time after that interview plaintiff sent word through witness Tulsidas that he could not raise the money. Tulsidas says. 'plaintiff said to me this arrangement about the loan is not possible.'Kanji admits meeting the plaintiff at the bank, but denies that he promised to get the plaintiff his brokerage if he got a letter from the bank to say that the plaintiff first placed the proposal before them. The rest of the defendant's story is not in dispute. Briefly it is that he mortgaged one of the three properties for Rs. 2,65,000 to a third party, and raised a loan from the bank through a broker named Popatlal of Rs. 1,10,000 on an equitable mortgage of another property.

10. Now, it is necessary for me to state quite plainly which of these stories I believe to be true, and putting the matter as shortly as possible, I believe the plaintiff, and not the defendant and his witnesses. The plaintiff in my estimation is a far better witness -''~ than the defendant or Kanji or Tulsidas. The story is probable. He was engaged to raise a loan, and it was in his interest to do so. The bank was willing to lend the money, and it is impossible to understand why in those circumstances he should send word to the defendant that it could not be done, or why he should never have gone to the defendant again after their first interview. Such conduct is hardly consistent with the ordinary ways of brokers, and the plaintiff's assertion that he had more than one interview with the defendant is consistent with the fact that he had two visits to the bank, and made two distinct proposals as deposed to by Mr. Forman. The defendant, Kanji, and Tulsidas, all to a greater or lesser degree, gave evidence in a manner which does not impress me favourably. Their story is unnatural. And the correspondence which I have sot out, in my opinion, supports the plaintiff. It is not easy to believe that the plaintiff, after informing Tulsidas that he could not get a loan, a statement in itself inconsistent with the bank's attitude in the matter, should have written the letter which he did write, making his claim as a broker. The statement in the defendant's letter of November 15 that the Allahabad Bank declined to entertain his proposal appears to be contrary to the true facts. And it is difficult to read the plaintiff's letter of November 7 as being a step in a scheme to put forward a claim to brokerage to which the plaintiff is not entitled. My conclusion is that the story told by the plaintiff in this matter is substantially true.

11. That being so, and the contract being what it is, the question arises whether the plaintiff is entitled to the commission which, he claims. A number of eases have been cited on either side, and it is not always easy to extract from them any consistent principle, but it appears to me that the real test in cases of this kind, where one party is employed by another to do a certain act must be whether the party so employed has done that act or not. Now whether we apply the test that appears to be suggested in Green v. Bartlett (1863) 14 C.B. (N.S.) 681. 'Did the agent find a purchaser' ?, the ease there being one of a house agent employed to sell a house, or whether we apply the principle underlying Green v. Lucas (1875) 31 L.T. 731, on appeal (1876) 33 L.T. 581 which is, in the case of a loan broker 'Whether the money was procured by the agent, in determinig which question it must be considered whether the plaintiff did everything he could do by way of finding a lender and bringing him into touch with the defendants'-whichever, I say, of these tests is applied, the question seems to me to be much what I have indicated, was everything done by the agent which he was employed to do? The same principle we find expressed in Fisher v. Drewett (1878) 39 L.T. 253, viz., whether the agent had done all that he contracted to do. The answer to that question must be determined in each case to a very large extent by the terms of the contract. Here the contract is what I have already set out, and all the plaintiff undertook to do was to find a party to lend money to the defendant on the security of the defendant's property. Holding as I do that the Allahabad Bank were willing to do that, and that the plaintitf by informing the defendant brought the parties together, it seems to me that the plaintitf has done that which was required by the terms of his employment. The matter will be found discussed in The Municipal Corporation of Bombay v. Cuverji Birji I.L.R. (1895) Bom. 124. That was a case whore the broker was employed to sell land, and Farran C.J. there remarks (p. 127);-

Now we take that law to be as laid down by Erle, C.J., in Green v. Bartlett (1863) 14 C.B.681. His Lordship says : 'The question whether or not an agent is entitled to commission..has repeatedly been litigated: and it has usually been decided, that, if the relation of buyer and seller is really brought about by the act of the agent, he is entitled to commission although the actual sale has not Been effected by him.' In that case the purchaser had been introduced to the vendor by the agent, in the present case, there is no question of introduction. That is often the main office of a broker in cases whore an article of commerce is sold. The bringing together of it willing vendor and a willing purchaser is virtually bringing about the bargain, and the same is often the consequence though in a less degree, of bringing a vendor and buyer of land into communication.

12. These remarks appear to me to be applicable to the present matter. The main office of a loan broker is to bring the borrower and the lender together, and when he has done that, he has, in my opinion, done all that is necessary for him to do and earn his commission. I must of course qualify that statement by saying that there must be in the lender the willingness to open negotiations upon a reasonable basis, which Farran C.J. insisted upon in the case just cited. There is little doubt here that had the defendant followed up the work which the plaintiff had done, he would have obtained from the Allahabad Bank the loan which he eventually obtained through another broker. In this connection the case of Wilkinson v. Alston (1879) 48 L.J.Q.B. 733 is specially instructive. There an agent was employed to look out for the purchaser of a ship, and the agent found a party, but no bargain was struck, and everything, so to speak,' fell to the ground, and it was not until after a long interval that the party came forward and concluded a purchase. In the judgment in that case Bramwell L.J. says (p. 734):-

The defendant, practically said to the plaintiff, 'If you or White can find me a purchaser, and the purchase is completed, I will pay you a commission.' And the expression, 'if you can find a purchaser', may be expanded as meaning, if you can introduce a purchaser to myself, or can introduce a purchaser to the premises, or call the premises to the notice of a purchaser.

That being the meaning of the expression, the jury had to find whether the plaintiff was employed to find a purchaser, and they found that he was Then the next thing they find is this, that the plaintiff or White did find a purchaser. That is, they did introduce a person who, in consequence of the introduction, became the purchaser on account of himself or some one else,

13. Brett L.J. says (p. 735):-

We are to tike it that the plaintiff was employed by the defendant to find a purchaser for the ship on the terms that if he did he should be paid a commission. The plaintiff would, in point of law, fulfil the contract if he introduced the ship to the notice of the purchaser, and the latter purchased it in consequence of that introduction, though all proceedings subsequent to that introduction were carried on between the principals without any further intervention by the agent.

14. Upon the facts of this case it seems to me not unreasonable to presume that the defendant's final recourse to the Allahabad Bank is due to what was done by the plaintiff in pursuance of his employment, and therefore it would not be right to say that the, loan which was finally taken from the bank was not due to the plaintiffs intervention; but even if it were not, I do not think that that would make any difference to the plaintiff's right to claim commission. The plaintiff was really employed to procure a loan for the defendant, and what is meant by that would be found explained in the case of Green v. Reed (1862) 3 F. & F. 226, Here the defendant bad applied to the plaintiff to obtain him a loan of 25,000 on real security. A certain Society agreed to advance 20,000 upon the property, but on investigation of title it was found that there was some difficulty. The Society offered 8,000, bat the defendant declined to accept it, and went elsewhere. He eventually obtained a loan from another company who were satisfied with the security. The plaintiff claimed his commission on the amount of the loan as actually obtained, whereas the defendant denied that he was entitled to anything, the money never having in fact been actually obtained and received. Erie C.J. charging the jury made the following remarks (p. 227) :-

The plaintiff claims for commission. Was there an express contract that Crump J nothing should be paid unless the money was actually received? Or was the contract that the plaintiff should be paid his commission whether the money were actually received or not, provided it were procured? The plaintiff says the contract was to pay the commission if the loan was procured. Was it so? Or was it to be paid only provided the money was received 1 It depends on the contract, for here an express contract is sworn to. As regards the cause of the loan, going off, there was no fault or default on the part of the defendant, it was a mere defect of title, which he could not probably be aware of.

The jury asked whether, if a man professed to borrow money on property to which he had not a title, and the loan was procured, but failed through the want of title, he was liable to pay the commission ?

Erie, C.J.-It depends on the contract, and here an express contract is sworn to, that nothing was to be paid unless the money was received.

15. That case turned, as will be seen, on the terms of the contract, and the distinction is drawn between the procuring the money and the actual receipt of it. And it will appear from the head-note that it was held that a loan for the purposes of that contract was equivalent to a power to obtain a loan. And that seems to be the case here. For all that the plaintiff was employed to do was to find a party who was willing to advance the money to the defendant. When once he had put it in defendant's power to obtain the loan, he had done all that his appointment necessitated, It was sought to be argued that unless the loan waa actually procured by the plaintiff's intervention, he would not be entitled to any commission, but there is another answer to that argument, and that is, the circumstances of this case clearly go to show that the defendant in reality made it impossible for the plaintiff to earn his commission, by employing another broker and obtaining a loan from the same party which the plaintiff had already indicated'. The cases on which the defendant's counsel has relied do not appear to me to in any way detract from the soundness of the principle which I have endeavoured to lay down. In Millar, Son, and Co. v. Radford (1903) 19 T.L.R. 575 a house agent was employed to find a tenant or a purchaser, He found a tenant and received his commission upon that basis. The tenant was in possession of the property, and subsequently purchased it, and it was held that the house agent was not entitled to commission upon the sale. The real reason appears to me to be that upon the facts of that case it could not be said that the plaintiff had brought about the sale. It was not necessary for the plaintiff to show that he brought about the sale. That was merely a test as to whether or not the plaintiff had found a purchaser. That case in no way lays down that an agent who finds a purchaser without actually bringing about a sale is not entitled to any commission. The question in that form did not arise in that case, or in the similar ease in Nightingale v. Parsons [1914] 2 K.B. 621. This case rests upon a similar state of facts and is really outside the matter now before me. Again, in Martin v. Tucker (1885) 1 T.L.R. 655 we have a case which turns upon the special terms of the contract. In Taplin v. Barrett (1889) 6 T.L.R. 30 there was a sale of property which was not in contemplation of the parties when they entered into the contract, and that really was held to be an indication of the revocation of the plaintiff's agency, and upon that ground it was held that no commission had been earned. Burnett v. Brown and Co. (1890) 6 T.L.R. 463 is a case, which, speaking with all respect, I find somewhat difficult to understand, There two brokers were simultaneously employed. One of them introduced a party, and subsequently the other introduced the same party, who in the event became the purchaser. It was held that the first broker was not entitled to commission apparently on the ground that the sale was not actually completed through his intervention. But if the test be really that which will be found laid down in The Municipal Corporation of Bombay v. Cuverji Hirji it is difficult to see upon what basis that decision rests. It may be that there was a special term in that contract that no commission was to be paid unless a sale was actually effected, which of course would entirely alter the matter. In Brinson v. Davies (1911) 27 T.L.R. 442 the facts are entirely different to anything which we have here. There a man employed an agent to sell his property, but before the agent introduced the purchaser he sold it himself, and it was held that he was perfectly entitled by the terms of the contract to sell the property himself if ho could. The subsequent introduction of the purchaser could not entitle the agent to commission.

16. These are the principal cases cited upon either side, and they seem to me to leave the matter much where I started at the outset, that is, if the plaintiff in the case has done all that he was employed to do, then he is entitled to the commission, and having regard to the terms of the contract between the parties here, I hold that he has. It follows that he is entitled to the commission which he claims. It is plain from the correspondence between the bank and the defendant that the bank would have advanced Rs. 2,00,000, if the security had not proved to be insufficient, and it would appear upon the principles laid in Elias v. Govind Chunder Khatick I.L.R. (1902) Cal. 202 and Fisher v. Breweat (1878) 39 L.T. 253, in those circumstances the plaintiff is entitled to commission upon the amount of two lacs. There must be a decree for the plaintiff for Rs. 4,000 with costs and interest on judgment at six per cent.

17. The defendant appealed.

18. The Appeal Court (Marten C.J. and Blackwell J.), on January 30, 1928, passed the following order by consent.

19. Per Curiam. By consent decree varied by reducing the principal amount of decree from Rs. 4000 to Rs. 2200 Appellant to pay costs of appeal, and in Court below including costs of execution.


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