This case was about whether a magistrate supervising a fair could exercise a power of summary imprisonment. On his way to the St. Lawrence fair in Selkirk, Robert Scott, pursuer, agreed to buy a cow from William Oliver. Scott intended to purchase the cow as a “yeld” (a barren cow), but he claimed to have discovered at the fair that she was “in milk.” Scott refused to take the cow or pay the agreed upon price. Oliver complained to defender Adam Mitchell, one of the bailies of Selkirk. Mitchell ordered Scott jailed after a summary proceeding, the facts of which were disputed. Arguing that this process was defective, Scott brought an action for damages for wrongful imprisonment. Mitchell claimed that as superior of the fair, he was empowered to enforce Scott and Oliver’s contract by summarily imprisoning Scott until Scott found caution (i.e., bail).

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