John Syme and Son, merchants in Leith, owed money to Clifford and Son, pursuer, merchants in Amsterdam. Due to the nature of the transaction, the money was required to pass through the hands of William Hogg and Son, merchants in Edinburgh. (In the transaction, another person, Archibald Maclean, advanced money to William Hogg and Son, which they in turn gave to John Syme and Son. McLean was then reimbursed by Clifford and Son). William Hogg and Son subsequently encounter financial problems, which raised the possibility that its creditors would to collect the money. Clifford and Son sought to avoid this possibility. Hugh Mosman, a writer in Edinburgh and creditor of William Hogg and Son, claimed an interest in the payment from John Syme and Son to William Hogg and Son. Clifford and Son disputed Mosman's claim by arguing that they were entitled to the payment because they provided the funds in the first place.

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