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Comptoir d'Achat et de Vente du Boerenbond Belge S/A v. Luis de Ridder Limitada (The Julia)

House of Lords
[1949] A.C. 293


Comptoir d’Achat et de Vente du Boerenbond Belge (Boerenbond) (plaintiff) arranged for the purchase and shipment of 500 tons of rye to Antwerp, Belgium from a seller, Luis de Ridder Limitada (Ridder) (defendant). Boerenbond made a full payment of $5,000 to Ridder’s agent, Belgian Grain, and received the delivery order. In order to take delivery of the goods, a multi-step procedure was required. The delivery order would be given to Boerenbond’s agent, along with money for freight charges. Both would be delivered to Belgian Grain, which would endorse the delivery order and return it to Boerenbond’s agent. The delivery order would then be taken to Ridder’s agent, Van Bree, who would keep the order and authorize delivery to himself. However, the rye would not be released from the ship until the captain issued a release document to Van Bree, who would then allow Boerenbond’s agent to take possession. The ship never arrived in Antwerp due to a German invasion. Instead, the ship sold the rye in Lisbon, Portugal at a reduced price. Boerenbond demanded the return of the full $5,000, but Ridder would only agree to return the amount realized from the sale in Lisbon. In an arbitration dispute, Boerenbond claimed that there was a complete failure to perform on the contract. The umpire of the arbitration dispute found that Ridder had performed under the contract because the delivery order was delivered to Boerenbond. The court of first instance and the court of appeals upheld the umpire’s ruling. Boerenbond appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Porter, J.)

Concurrence (Normand, J.)

Concurrence (Simonds, J.)

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