“Auctioneer’s Action Dismissed: Invalid Clause in Mortgage Agreement Thwarts Recovery of Commission”

In a recent case presided over by the Lord Chief Baron, auctioneer John Brown sought to recover £52 10s from a farmer in Ryaninch, Co. Tipperary. The dispute originated from an agreement made in June 1898 during the execution of a mortgage from the farmer to Brown for £200. The agreement stipulated that if the farmer sold his land within twelve months through any other person besides Brown, he would pay Brown a 5% auction fee.

The farmer sold the property in September for £1,600 through a separate auctioneer in Limerick, but refused to pay Brown the commission, which amounted to the sum now claimed. The farmer’s defense argued that the clause in the agreement was invalid due to its nature as a “clog upon redemption.”

The Lord Chief Baron concurred with the defendant’s argument, asserting that the entire transaction constituted a mortgage and, although Brown had acted fairly and reasonably, the clause in question indeed acted as a clog upon redemption. This finding invalidated the contract and rendered Brown ineligible to recover the sum claimed. The Lord Chief Baron declared judgment in favor of the defendant with costs, while granting a stay of execution for a fortnight at the plaintiff’s request.

Counsels for both parties presented their respective arguments, with Messrs. Bourke, Q.C., and P. Kelly representing the plaintiff, and Messrs. Wylie, Q.C., and P. Law Smith representing the defendant.

Irish Independent – Tuesday 06 February 1900

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