As Commissioner in that region, Joseph O’Reilly, J.P., was the plaintiff — the man who advanced Newfoundland’s case. The defendants had lawyers but witnesses clearly told the magistrate that they had seen the two Wood’s Island men placing herring (a bait fish) aboard the American schooner Ralph L. Hall.
And, woe to them for it seems to have been well known by witnesses that the two did not hold vendors’ licences. And that was essential under Newfoundland law at the time.
Mind you, we are talking about three tubs of herring. But the law stood to keep our fishermen in line and to protect our fisheries. It also protected the fishermen themselves by putting a bottom on the price that Americans must pay for bait-fish here and stipulating that the Americans tubs, into which our men would dump their herring, had to be of a regulation size.