David Nasmith, a mason, entered into a contract with the city of Glasgow in which he agreed to construct a quay along the river Clyde. The city subsequently raised concerns about Nasmith’s work on the quay, and the parties entered into arbitration. The arbiters found that Nasmith had been overpaid for his work and directed him to refund a portion of his fee to the city. Arthur Robertson, the Chamberlain of Glasgow, gave Nasmith a charge based on the arbiters’ decree, but Nasmith sought to have the charge suspended. He argued that the arbiters were prejudiced against him because he underbid Glasgow’s other masons to secure the contract in question.

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