Petitioner Joseph Hately is an engineer who specializes in coal mining. In May 1770 Hately obtained a tack (lease) of coal in the lands of Hutchison near Glasgow. Defender Colin Dunlop is a merchant in Glasgow who also works in the coal trade. Hately accuses Dunlop and his business partner Alexander Houston of trying to obtain a monopoly on the coal trade in the Glasgow area. Hately is able to sell his coal at a lower price than Dunlop and Houston, who own adjoining coal property in the lands of Carmyle. Dunlop accuses Hately of encroaching upon his lands, so he presents a petition to the local sheriff of Lanark to inspect Hately's mines by three of Dunlop's servants. Hately maintains that he has not encroached on Dunlop's property and wants to protect the way his doing his business in the coal-trade. Thus, Hately questioned the interlocutor and asked for its alteration to change the appointment of the inspector and sought to a new appointment of a land-surveyor, who is not a coallier, or connected with the coal trade.