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Smith V. William Charlick Notes

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SMITH V. WILLIAM CHARLICK FACTS The South Australian Wheat Harvest Board, having made contracts with the plaintiff company to sell to it wheat at 5s. and 6s. 6d. per bushel, and having delivered the wheat and received payment, required the company to pay an additional sum representing the difference between the contract price and 7s. 8d. per bushel for such wheat as was delivered after 30th January 1920. The Wheat Harvest Act 1917, sec. 5, forbade the sale of wheat by any one other than the Board; and the Board told the company that it would sell to the company no more wheat unless the additional sum were paid. The company carries on the business of milling, and, the wheat being essential for the business, the company paid the additional sum under protest. The Board made no pretence of any legal right to the payment, but relied on its (assumed) power to sell to whom it pleased. HOLDING KNOX CJ It is admitted by the formal admission put in at the trial that the petitioner was at all material times unable to purchase any wheat except from the Board, and that if the Board had not supplied the plaintiff with any wheat the plaintiff would have been unable to continue to carry on its business of a miller. It is clear that under the contracts no further money was due than that which had been paid, and that the Government could not have recovered one penny of the surcharge in an action or other legal proceeding. It is clear also that it did not represent that it had any legal right to the surcharge. On the contrary, it disclaimed any legal right to it. It is clear also that when the petitioner paid it he knew that the Board was not asserting the claim as a legal claim. In the present case there was no mistake of fact, no threat of unauthorized interference with the person or the property or any legal right of the respondent, and no demand made under colour of office. The payment was made with full knowledge of all material facts. The respondent knew that the Board was not, and did not claim to be, legally entitled to demand the money. It was paid, not in order to have that done which the Board was legally bound to do, but in order to induce the Board to do that which it was under no legal obligation to do. In my opinion none of the cases relied on by the respondent extends far enough to support the claim made in this case, and the appeal should be allowed. ISSACS J.

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