Billiards in the Law Courts
Lonsdale v. Billiard Association
This action was brought before the Lord Chief Justice by
Mr. H. A. O. Lonsdale, the well-known ex-amateur billiard
champion, to test the legality of the action of the Billiard
Association in publishing their suspension of him as an
amateur player because he had taken part, with Stevenson,
in a charity match for which admission was charged at the
door. After evidence on both sides
in the course of a two days’ hearing,
the Lord Chief Justice, in
summing up, said: The jury must
look at the whole of the document
published by defendants and consider
whether it was a document
calculated to hold the plaintiff up
to contempt or lower him in the
opinion of his fellows. It was
only fair to the defendants to say
that the Stevenson match was
advertised while Mr. Lonsdale was
still a member of the B.A., and it
was plain from their own rules
that the suspension did not make
Mr. Lonsdale any other than an
amateur. The question for the
jury was whether any construction could be placed upon
the published suspension other than that Mr. Lonsdale had
been suspended solely because he had broken a regulation
of the B.A. Had there been a libel and had there been
The jury returned into court after a short retirement with
a verdict for the defendants.
Judgment was entered accordingly, with costs.
Roberts v. Gray
In this action, also before the Lord Chief Justice, John
Roberts, the veteran ex-champion, sued George Gray, the
phenomenal boy billiardist, through his father (Mr. H. W.
Gray) for £6,000 for breach of contract, the statement of
claim alleging that, after signing a contract with the plaintiff
to play under his management
around the world, he withdrew
without sufficient cause from the
The Lord Chief Justice, after
summing up, said he would leave
the following questions to the
1. Was there fraudulent representation by plaintiff with regard to the date of the termination
of his bonzoline ball
2. Was plaintiff always willing
to carry through the contract?
3. Damages, if plaintiff succeeded.
Other questions he would deal with himself, and these
1. Was the contract beneficial to defendant?
2. If so, was its beneficial character materially injured
by the inability of Roberts to play with any other ball
than bonzoline for two months after the tour was commenced?
The jury found no fraudulent representation by plaintiff,
and awarded him damages £1,500.
His Lordship said he would hear arguments on the two
questions of law for his consideration after he had concluded
his circuit work in the North of England.