This case was about the police powers of Glasgow’s dean of guild, a magistrate who supervised buildings. In 1773, the dean and his council ordered residents to take down their “water barges,” which were affixed to buildings in order to carry water away. Suspender Patrick Bell ignored the new rule and was individually ordered to take down his water barge. Bell brought a bill of suspension before the Court of Session. He argued that the dean of guild lacked authority to create regulations that were not based on common law or a statute; therefore, according to Bell, the dean of guild could not require removal of the water barge unless it constituted a nuisance or a trespass. The dean of guild responded that the order was within his jurisdiction, and that it was justified because the water barges were “ugly to the eye,” served to narrow the street, and poured water out onto passing pedestrians.

Published Reports

William Morison, The Decisions of the Court of Session (1811), pg. 13178
Sir David Dalyrymple of Hailes, Decisions of the Lords of Council and Session, from 1766 to 1791 (1826), pg. 598