Around 1765 MacWhan, Beck, and Company participated in a number of smuggling adventures with Currie, Park, and Company. In 1768, David Currie pressed upon John Beck to accept a bill for £163 on the account kept between the two companies while carrying out their illegal activity. Currie, Beck, and Company later endorsed the bill to Thomas Stothart (Stoddart), who brought action against MacWhan, Beck, and Company for payment. The case came before Lord Auchinleck, and the petitioners argued that they had merely accepted the bill as a favor, and that it was cancelled out by sums they had earlier advanced. Lord Auchinleck ruled in their favor. The defenders appealed, arguing that the bill was tied to smuggled goods. They took note of the Court's recent decision in MacClure and MacCree v. Paterson, but Auchinleck again rejected their arguments. MacWhan, Beck, and Company then applied to the Court, arguing again that the bill was for an amount not actually owed, which had been spent in implement of a smuggling contract. The pursuer replied that the bill itself was proof that the sum was indeed owed, and that as foreign merchants they had merely engaged in free commerce abroad. The Court determined that a bill associated with smuggling could not be enforced, and ruled in favor of the defenders.

Published Reports

Mungo Brown, Supplement to the Dictionary of the Decisions of the Court of Session (1826), pg. 533


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