Page:Harvard Law Review Volume 1.djvu/162

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Champerty.Contingent Fees.—A, a domestic servant, having no means but his earnings, employed B, an attorney, to recover A’s share in his father’s estate. By the terms of their agreement, A was to defray the necessary expenses of the suit, and B was to charge nothing for his services except in event of success, in which case B should be entitled “to very large and liberal fees, in no event to exceed fifty per cent. of the amount collected” by B. The suit prosecuted for A was first decided against him; but was successfully appealed. Held—The agreement was lawful. It lacked the essential element of champerty, sharing in the fruits of the litigation; it left the defendant A still personally liable for B’s fee. Blaisdell v. Ahern, 11 N. E. Rep. 681 (Mass). For a discussion of the ethics of contingent fees, and a collection of cases on this subject, see Sharswood’s Legal Ethics (5th ed.), pp. 153 et seq.

Conspiracy, CriminalBoycott.—A branch of the National Stonecutters’ Union agreed to do no work for any shop or works disapproved of and known as “scab” by that organization, and to boycott and publish as “scabs” in the “Granite Cutters’ Journal” any workmen who continued after warning to work in such shops. The results of such publication as a “scab” would be that no member of the Union would work with such a party, and work would be difficult for him to obtain. In pursuance of this agreement, by threats of publication as “scabs” the defendants actually induced certain workmen to leave the employ of the Ryegate Granite Co.

Held—To be settled by authority and on sound principle that the defendants were guilty of a criminal conspiracy at common law. The case collects many authorities. State v. Stewart, 9 Atl. Rep. 559 (Vt.).

Constitutional LawInterstate CommercePower to Bridge Navigable Waters.—The case presents the important constitutional question whether Congress can lawfully confer upon a private corporation the capacity to occupy navigable waters within a State, and appropriate the soil under them for the purpose of interstate commerce, without the consent and notwithstanding the protest of the State. It was decided that the power to build bridges, or authorize them to be built, is incidental to the general power to regulate interstate commerce. Decker v. B. & N. Y. R. R. Co., 30 Fed. Rep. 723. The same question is similarly decided in Stockton v. B. & N. Y. R. R. Co., 10 N. J. L. J. 273. Mr. Justice Bradley gives a vigorous opinion. “In matters of foreign and interstate commerce,” says he, “there are no States.” Vide “The Arthur Kill Bridge Case,” 10 N. J. L. J. 261.

ContractCompromise of a Disputed Claim.—“The compromise of a disputed claim made bona fide is a good consideration for a promise, whether the claim be in suit, or litigation has not been actually commenced, even though it should ultimately appear that the claim was wholly unfounded. The detriment to the party consenting to a compromise, arising from the alteration in his position, forms the real consideration which gives validity to the promise.”—Grandin v. Grandin, 9 Atl. Rep. 756 (N. J.).

However difficult to support on theory, the result would seem to be a very desirable one. If the claim must “be doubtful in law or fact,” no compromise can be relied on as final till the case has been tried to see whether it is doubtful. The difficulty is in regard to the consideration. The only “alteration in position” which will always be present is the giving up of a right to litigate, and there may be a difference of opinion as to whether one has a “right” to litigate an unfounded claim. In this connection it is noteworthy that Callisher v. Bischoffsheim, Ockford v. Barelli, and Cook v. Wright, which had been questioned in England, were expressly approved in Miles v. New Zealand Alford Estate Co., 32 Ch. D. 266. And the editor’s note cites half a dozen recent American cases to the same effect as to the sufficiency of the consideration.

ContractConditionsMeasure of Damages.—A contracted in writing with B to make and deliver at a certain price per ton 6,000 tons of steel rails, to be drilled as directed by B. B did not give the directions when applied to, and notified A that B would not take the rails at all. The market value of rails fell. A used up the material bought for the contract with B, in rails sold to other