The golden syrup case

A false description

Swindon Advertiser

April 1899
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A false description

Alfred Maybery, Frank Maybery, and Arnold Maybery, trading as Gibbons and Co., of Bristol, were summoned for applying a false trade description to 20 doz. tins of golden syrup delivered to Mr A.D. Williams, provision dealer, of New Swindon, in April, 1898. — Mr. H. Bevir prosecuted, and Mr R.E.C.Balston, solicitor, of Bristol defended. – The latter placed an objection before the hearing the case on the grounds that the summons had been issued against his clients under the Merchandise Marks Act, whereas it should have been under the Food and Drugs Act. 

The case was gone on with, however, subject to the objection. – Before calling the Inspector, Mr Bevior produced one of the tins sold to Mr Williams, and which was covered with a label stating that the syrup was made from refined sugar. – Mr Sam Smith spoke to purchasing several tins of the syup from Mr. Williams, and submitting it for analysis. – Mr A.D. Williams said he had purchased the syrup from defendants in 1898, and that which the inspector purchased was of the stock. — Dr. Bernard Dyer, the County Analyst, spoke to examining the syrup, and found it mainly composed of glucose – a substance made from maize.  – There was at least 70% of glucose and not more than 30 of sugar syrup. – In answer to Mr Bevir, witness said that the glucose was properly added for the purpose of preventing crystallisation.  20% of this would be sufficient. – For the defence health.William Mayberry was called, and stated that the syrup sold to Mr Williams, and now in question, was part of a stock sold to them by another firm, and which tins were afterwards labelled with the defendants name, but not the statement as to its quality. That had been put on by the owners. – The bench decided that subject to the point of law being settled, they were unanimous in convicting, but would adjourn the case for a fortnight importer that the point of law in question might be settled. — Swindon Advertiser, 22 June 1899


The golden syrup case

The decision of the bench

A fine of £10 and costs

The bench delivered judgement in the case of Alfred William Maybery, Frank Maybery, and Arnold Maybery, trading as Gibbons and Co., of Bristol, who was summoned under the Merchandise Marks Act for supplying a false description to 20 dozen tins of golden syrup, delivered to Mr A.D. Williams and Co., of bridge Street, New Swindon, in the month of April, 1898. 

The solicitor for the defence when the case last came on for hearing, objected to the summons on the ground that the case should have been instituted under the Food and Drugs act. The Bench were unanimous in deciding to conflict, but refrained from doing so then, and adjourned the case for a fortnight, so that the point of law might be considered. A written judgement was now given, signed by Mr Hussey Freke and Mr Reynolds. They found as a fact that although sold to the public as the "Ambrosia" brand, bearing the impress of the defendants' initials and containing the trade description of Golden Syrup, it consisted, as to three-tenths, of syrup derived from sugar and as to seven-tenths of glucose syrup. Having given full consideration to the case, the magistrates found that defendants applied to the goods in question a false trade description, viz., one that, indirectly at any rate, falsely described both the mode of manufacturing the said goods and the material of which the goods were composed, and this would, primer fascia, render them liable under the act. The bench also found that defendant had failed to satisfy them that they acted without intent to defraud. In concluding, the judgement read as follows: – the adulteration in question is of a serious character. Many tradesmen in this town have been convicted by us in spite of their appeal that they have sold the goods as they received them, and were innocent of fraud. We have punished them for the protection of the public. It is quite true that these defendants are not the manufacturers, but are what are known in the trade as "Akers," but they did not satisfy us that their action was such as to give them benefit of the last clause in subsection one of clause 2 of the act. The maximum penalty provided by the act is £20, but we think the justice of the case will be met by the infliction of half the maximum, his daughter, £10 fine with costs, to be taxed if the solicitors concerned are not able to agree. We are quite willing to state a case, if the defendants so desire, for the consideration of the High Court, and are prepared to post date judgement 14 days to give them full opportunity of considering an appeal. - Swindon Advertiser, 22 June 1899

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