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Taxes on the Administration of Justice. the Courts are to-adjudicate. On this sub- in other words, the southern counties bear the ject we avail ourselves of the observations whole coast of our militia, and our army, our of Lord Brougham in the debate of the navy, and our coast-guard, on the plea that 16th of May. His Lordship said -
they would immediately benefit most by the
protection? Such a proposition would not be “It would be superfluous at this time of endured for a moment; yet this was the very day, in the latter half of the 19th century, to thing, in another but not less monstrous manenter into arguments to show the utter injus- ner, that you were now doing with the suitors tice and impolicy of any taxes whatever on law in County Courts. They underwent the exproceedings. Sixty years ago Mr. Bentham pense, the harassment, the vexation, the risk had demonstrated their entire and monstrous of litigation, by which the whole country meabsurdity and iniquity.
diately benefited, and for that reason they were “ How would any one hear the proposition made singly to bear a heavy burden of taxation that a tax should be imposed, which a parti- besides,-a burden which operated not merely cular portion of the community-so many as a burden on the suitors for justice, but as thousands, or tens of thousands,- should alone an obstruction to the administration of justice pay for the benefit of the whole? Yet that was itself. the proposition of those who said that the
“ Let him put a case to his noble friend opsuitors in the County Courts should singly posite. Suppose—which heaven forfend!-a pay a tax the use of which was beneficial to the riot should happen in the part of the town whole community,—that use being the adminis- which he honoured with his abode, or that fire tration of public justice, a matter manifestly should be attempted to be set to his mansion, for the benefit, not simply of the individuals and that he should have occasion to call in the immediately concerned, but of the entire body aid of the civil power, and then of the military of the nation. You single out a certain num- force, to save his property, his life, from deber of her Majesty's subjects, say 100,000 per-struction-how would he, when the object had sons, or whatever the number representing the been happily so effected, relish the intimation suitors in the County Courts might be, and that his property, his life perhaps, having been you say that these 100,000 persons should so preserved by the police and the soldiery, he pay the entire taxation imposed on the admi- must pay the bill of the police for attending; nistration of justice, which is a thing concern- and of the military for attending? He would ing the entire community, the community ac-reply, that he paid his share, as a member of cordingly deriving the full use of that benefit the community, of those taxes by which both which the 100,000 individuale are compelled police and military were maintained, in com. singly to pay for-compelled, that was to say, mon with other purposes, for the protection of because in the assertion of a right, or in the the subjects generally; and he would protest repelling of a wrong, they resolved to put into that it would be very hard upon him, in addioperation that justice the administration of tion to all the alarm and anxiety, and perhaps which, in their case, served to benefit all the loss he had undergone, to pay all the cost of rest of the community, who yet were permitted the force which had been called in for his proto avail themselves of that benefit without con- tection as one of those subjects. Yet that was tributing to pay for it. Nor was even this the a parallel case with the case of the suitor in the worst feature of the abuse; for the persons County Court. The noble lord, on this supwho were thus mulcted by the State were pre- position, would have to pay, not only for the cisely those who, from the very operation of military and police who had aided him in his the suit in respect to which they were mulcted, particular need, but for military and police were least able to bear additional burdens. At with whom he had nothing to do, and of whom the very moment when all the other expenses he had thought himself quit on paying his of a suit were, perhaps, weighing down a man quota, as one of the community, to their main--the professional charges, the cost of evi-tenance, So the County Court suitor had to dence, and similar necessary outlay-down pay, not only for the Judge, and the clerk, and came the Treasury with a demand, by way of the bailiff, and what not of the court in which tax, exceeding in amount, not improbably, his case was heard, but he had to pay a heavy the whole of the charges for professional skill tax for County Courts in all parts of the counand labour. It was not enough that the suitor try, with which he had nothing to do. should pay for the skill, or the want of skill,- “ The access of suitors to the County Courts that he should pay all the regular and fairly was obstructed by the fees which were levied understood expenses of his case and its conse- upon them, and the money thus extracted or quences. The Government must at that mo- extorted was applied to defray the salaries of ment overwhelm him with a monstrous tax. Judges and to provide the buildings in which
There was much talk just now of the de- suits were investigated. He conceived that it fences of the country--and heaven forbid a was the bounden duty of a Government to prostone should be left unturned to render them vide for the administration of justice and to place complete!-bat how would a proposition be the expenses of that administration of justice received for casting on the frontier, or the upon the community at large, instead of allowing southern coast,-say, the whole burden of these it to fall upon suitors who could ill afford the defences, leaving the inland counties free from payment. The Government ought not to aggraany contribution to the object--for making, vate the weight which the bare fact of being
Taxes on the Administration of Justice.
181 suitors imposed upon men in such a position, of public affairs, it is a hopeless attempt to but they should throw the charge of providing throw any large part of this burthen on the for the administration of justice upon the com- Consolidated Fund. munity at large, because it was the duty of the Government to afford its subjects full protec-sioners are busily engaged in the considera
As, however the County Court Commistion in return for the allegiance exacted from them. He might be told that the plaintiff re- tion of those local tribunals
, it will be usecovered the amount of the fees if the defendant ful to notice the several prominent statecould pay them, but in two out of three cases ments relating to them, comprised in Lord the defendant was unable even to pay the court Brougham's speech, and to offer some fees. At the very moment when a man might, explanations and remarks bearing on the by various accidents or misadventures, or by topics brought forward. We presume his the pettifogging, chicanery, or dishonesty, or lordship was correctly informed of the loss, what did the Exchequer do? Why, the striking results on which he commented. moment when the suitor was complaining of According to the report in the Times, his the dishonesty of one party and
the insolvency lordship stated thatof another was the very time chosen by the “ The number of causes tried in the County Government for pouncing upon him, and sub- Courts—he ought rather to say, the number jecting him to still greater exactions, sharing, of actions brought in those Courts-upon the as it were, with knaves the fruits of their dis- average of the last six years was 435,641 yearly, honesty. This system reminded him of the and the amount involved was 1,400,0001. But story of a certain man who fell among thieves.' during the last three three years, since the exA person who appeared to be passing acciden- tension of the jurisdiction from 2012 to 501., tally found him lying exhausted upon the the average amount of the suits brought for ground, and inquired, in sympathising tones, the last three years was 1,520,000l. yearly. 'Pray, what is the matter with you, sir?'Oh,' The number of suits brought last year was was the reply, ' a villain has run off with my considrably above the average, being in 1853, purse and my hat.' •Why,' asked the false Sa- 484,000. Now, this was the way to try the maritan, “are you quite exhausted ?' Yes, uses of the County Courts, and to estimate almost entirely.' 'Try, can't you move a the extraordinary benefits which had been delittle?' 'No, I cannot stir.' Oh, then, if rived from them :—How many suits had been that is the case,' said the interrogator, “I'll brought in the Superior Courts before the take your wig. Now, that was just the con- establishment of the County Courts ? 120,000 duct of the Government in this instance. They a year. Since the establishment of these Courts found the suitor plundered by the malpractices the number had been, of couse, lessened conor insolvency of others, and they said to him- siderably (by one-third), and they amounted at the time he could least afford it—'Come, now to 81,000, instead of 120,000. But now pay these fees; they are only 31. 11s. 8d.; it is he prayed their lordships to consider what these true that in the Court of Queen's Bench the facts proved. What they absolutely demonsame fees are only 178., but they are 3l. 11s. 8d. strated was, that there was a complete denial here, and you must pay.'
of justice previously to the year 1847, and beIn this debate the attention of Lord fore the establishment of these Courts; for if Brougham, as we have thus seen, was 120,000 suits were all that were tried in all the principally directed to the taxes on the Superior Courts, and if the number tried during proceedings in the County Courts. It
the same average of the last six years had been appears that no less a sum than 260,000 deduct the 120,000 which the Superior Courts
in the County Courts 435,000, you had only to is on the average annually paid by the would have tried from the 435,000 which suitors for the salaries of the Judges, were tried in the County Courts, to ascertain officers, and other expenses of these local what amount of cases were perfectly incapable Courts, being for the most part 20 or 30 of being tried before them, and consequently per cent. on the sums recovered. If such to ascertain in what number of cases there was an enormous expense for the mere ma
not only a great failure in, but an entire and chinery of the Courts, exclusive of the pay- 315,000 cases which, but for the County
You had thus
complete denial of justice. ments to witnesses, counsel, and attorneys, Courts, would not have been tried, and in all had been known at the time they were pro- of which there would have been a complete posed, it is very probable that the project denial of justice. Now, it would be a very would have been rejected altogether or ma- great mistake to suppose that the number of terially modified. Perhaps the then exist- causes and the sums for which those suits ing Courts of Request would have been were brought gave anything like an accurate improved and rendered uniform in their measure of the benefits derived from these limited jurisdiction. The result is now so
Courts. Very much the reverse, for you must monstrous that we need not marvel it
I These small debts were previously recoshould be brought prominently before the verable in the Courts of Conscience.' There Legislature ; and yet in the present state was no denial of justice.-Ed.
Taxes on the Administration of Justice. take into account the vast number of cases raised by direct taxation for fees. He would which were settled without the suit being not mention, without some comment, the word brought, and which, from the knowledge on fees, which had apparently given rise to the tbe part of the defendants that this Court ridiculous errors made by a portion of the pub. existed and that suits might be brought into lic press in supposing that those who comit, were settled without driving their adver- plained of the fees of the County Courts were saries to the necessity of suits at all. It was, enemies of those Courts, because those writers of course, quite impossible to estimate accué seemed to confound the question of fees with rately what the amount involved in those cases 'the other perquisites of the officers. In talkwas, but, no doubt, it was very considerable. ing of fees he meant ihe Court fees-the taxes There were other indirect advantages derived imposed by the Government upon the suitor from the establishment of these Courts-- he taxes which were taken in Court, and were would not say equal to the direct benefits they certainly taxes upon suitors.
Those taxes conferred, but still of very great importance. amounted upon an average of the last two years, He would only mention one, Great improve- 1852 and 1853, yearly to 261,0001."; the sums ments in the law had been facilitated by them. recovered by these Courts and in respect of His noble and learned friend on the woolsack / which these taxes were imposed-these Court' would bear him out in the assertion he ras fees, as they were called, were exactedkvere about to make that he did not think he should 859,0001.; and the sums sued for'amounted to have had the least chance of passing that im- less than 1,500,0001., making a percentage of portant Bill to which he had the good fortune 17% upon the amount sued for, and 30 per to obtain the assent of Parliament two or three cent. upon the sums actually recovered. By admitting parties to give evidence in their own judgment and those paid in. About 14 per cases, and now completed by the Act of last cent. was, therefore, 'levied in the form of year—it would have been hopeless to attempt taxes upon suitors in these Courts upon the to pass such a Bill but for the experiment sums sued for, and 30 per cent. upon the sums": which had been made in the County Courts, recovered. There were differences, of course; but that the success of that system demon- in some cases the proportion was less, but, strated it ought to be made general. He then, in a great many others the proportion thought he might venture to enunciate these was a deal more than 17 per cent, propositions founded upon the facts which he “ He had in his hand three or four bills had laid before their lordships.
which had been paid by County Court suitors, It was too late to think of retracing their and which amply illustrated his position. In steps ; that they could not begin to halt in one case, where an action had been brought in the work of improvement; that they could not a metropolitan County Court, the amount sued dream of restoring the central jurisdiction and for was 171. 88. 9d.; here the taxes of wbich abolishing the local jurisdiction ; that the sys- he spoke-the Court fees—were 4l. 188, 4d., tem of local jurisdiction was rooted deeply in being pretty nearly the 30 per cent
. be had the affections of the community, and was so mentioned. In that case the attorney's bill
, intimately connected with their most immediate comprehending the whole profits of the profesinterests, that the notion of a retrograding sional man, was 21. 168. 8d.,—that
was to say, movement was out of the question ; and that the professional man, for all his pains and cost this was now for ever to be considered as a and skill and labour, received 21. 166. sd., while part of our national jurisprudence. For this the Treasury, in consideration of none of these very reason it became them, it behoved them things, but merely as taxes, received 41. 188, 4d., to lend all manner of attention to the improve or nearly double what the attorney received. ment of the system, to introduce all such ex. In the next case the per centage was still more; tensions as might judiciously and safely and that was a case in one of the Courts in London upon due deliberation be propounded ; and he ---one of the city Courts; the sum sued for was therefore did hope and trust that the import- 141. 38. 6d.; the Court fees' tvere 77. 55. 9d., ant commission which had now been sitting being 511. per cent. In a third case, in a Herefor the best part of a year upon the considera- fordshire County Court, the amount sued for tion of every matter relating to the County was 18l. ; the Court fees there were 104, 11s. id., Court judicature would be enabled to suggest being 55 per cent. on the sum sued for. In some very important improvements in this ju- another, the crowning case of those he should dicature,
cite, an action was
brought in a Kent County “The last of the propositions which he Court-an action for trespass brought under grounded upon the facts he had stated to their the optional clauso by the consent of hoth lordships was this to relieve these Courts from the much did their 'lordships suppose
Treasury burden of boured, 'To what extent was this " He should way of taxes, of Court fees independently of not take the average of the last six years, but all professional Temüherätion, of an other ex-". he would take the average of the last two years' penses in other respects ? Not 30 per cent.,
, ., same papers, now on their lordships' table, cent., and more than 150 per cent.! Upon the average of these last two years the sums this sum of 5l. the Court fees exacted were no
Taxes on Admin. of Justice.--Metropolitan and Provincial Law Association. less than sl. os. 6d.-more, considerably more, Like the first Common Law Procedure Bill, than 150 per cent. He had not had access to this Bill is the result of the labours of th: Comthe parliculars of these bills, except in two mon Law Commissioners; it consists of one instarices ; but in these two instances he had hundred sections, which contain a large nuinseen the hills, and he had submitted them to ber of provisions of great importance, and soine one of the officers of these Courts best ac- of startling novelty. quainted with the subject, who would have By the consent of the parties, juries may be corrected them at once had they been errone- dispensed with, and questions of fact left to the 018. Bis report, however, was, that the fees Judge. exacted by the officer of the Court were cor- The qualification of jurors is to be raised to recuy and truly due, that he had no choice but an assessment of 301., and jurors are to be to exact them, that for the work done, for the chosen indiscriminately from persons hitherto steps had in the proceedings, the fees charged qualified as special and common jurors. If any were due,; ugder the Act of Parliament, and jury cannot agree to a verdict after 12 hours, that the officer was not merely right in de. they are to be discharged. Counsel on either manding them, but would have omitted his side at a trial are to be allowed, after producing duty had he not exacted them from the suitor. their evidence, to comment upon it to the jury. He concluded, therefore, that the charges made Documents need not be proved by the attestfor taxes on the other two bills of which he had ing witness, except where attestation is requisite spoken were truly due."
to give validity to the documents. Now it must not be forgotten, in consi
The practice of attachment, according to the
custom of the City of London, is to be made dering these statistics, that before the
universal, present County Courts commenced their
Pleadings upon equitable grounds are to be operations in 1847, there were several allowed. hundred local Courts, many of which had Your Committee have referred this Bill to an unlimited jurisdiction as to pecuniary the consideration of a sub-Committee, and will amount ;—that many of the Courts of embody in a petition such observations and Request possessed a jurisdiction up to 151., suggestions as may appear, after careful exa
mination, to be necessary. a large number to 101., and almost all the
A Bill for preventing frauds upon creditors rest to 5l. When, therefore, we are con- by secret bills of sale of personal chattels, sidering the nunber of actions in the which proposes to make void as against assigCounty Courts, as compared with those in nees in bankruptcy or insolvency, and as the Superior Courts, we must not suppose against any execution, all bills of sale not rethat the County Courts afford a remedy gistered within 21 days of their execution, has There previously there was none.
On the been passed by the House of Lords, and sent contrary, we believe it will be found that to the Commons. This Bill was drawn by a the namber of summonses issued in the inittee believe that it is well calculated to effect
member of this Association, and the ComCourts of Request was equal to the plaints its object. Its effect will not be to interfere, in the new County Courts. Besides wbich with legitimate credit, but to render more clear there were various Boroạigh Courts, Sheriffs the difference between credit and actual proCourts, and old County Courts, in which perty. Another Bill having the same object is numerous actions were brought and cheaply the Bill to permit the Registration of dishoand expeditiously concluded. It is a mis, noured Bills of Exchange and Promissory take therefore to suppose that the County thereon." This Bill has been introduced by
Notes in England, and to allow execution Courts afford a remedy for the non-payment Lord Brougham, and it is accompanied by a of small debts which previously could only paper explaining that it only seeks to extend to be recovered in the Superior Courts. England a form of procceding which has been
long known to the Scotch Law under the name METROPOLITAN AND PROVINCIAL doubt that it will be passed.
of Summary Diligence. There appears little LAW ASSOCIATION.
Lord Brougham has also introduced a Bill ANNUAL REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE OF visions of which are for the inost part similar
to amend the Law of Arbitration, the proMANAGEMENT.
to the Arbitration Clauses of the second Com. 1 1. April 29th, 1854. 6 ,
mon Law Procedure Bill; and it is probable, [Concluded from page 164, ante.]
therefore, that this Bill will not be proceeded
with, or that those clause will be withdrawn. Bills before Parliament.-Among the Bills Lord Brougham has also introduced another that have been introduced into Parliament this Bill, to extend to England a portion of the Session, the following are of sufficient import- Law of Scotland,
under the title of “An Act ance to be here noticed ;
for giving a remedy, by way of Declaratory The Second Common Law Procedure Bill, Suit?” This Bill provides that persons apprewhich has been introduced by the Lord Chan- hending an intention in other persons to discellor, and referred to a Select Committee. pute their rights, may file a bill in Chancery
184 Metropolitan and Provincial Law Association.-Law Union Insurance Company. against them for the purpose of having those LAW UNION INSURANCE COMPANY. rights judicially declared. In the House of Commons, among the Law
Bristol Law Library, June 24, 1854. Bills, is one to consolidate and render permanent the Law of Friendly Societies. It is ob
At a meeting of Members of the Profesvious that the amount of property which has sion of this City, held this day for the purpose been dealt with under these hitherto temporary of receiving a Deputation from the Law Union Acts renders this measure very desirable. Fire and Life Insurance Company, Mr. D.
Another Bill has been brought in by Mr. J. G. Phillimore and Mr. Hume, to provide for Burges in the Chair, it was unanimously the appointment of Public Prosecutors. This
resolved Bill, however, has been postponed for the “That it appears to this meeting, after present, upon an intimation that Government having heard the explanation of the Directors have it in contemplation themselves to intro- of the Law Union Fire and Life Insurance duce a measure upon the subject. The matter is one of much difficulty, and will require the Company, that the proposed arrangements of careful attention of your Committee, who do the company with respect to the legal businot think that it is likely to improve the admi- ness of the office are equitable and deserve the nistration of justice if it should be proposed to consideration of the Profession.” compel parties who are driven to seek redress in the Criminal Courts, to entrust their in
Signed on behalf of the Meeting, terests to public officers not selected by, or
“ DANIEL Burges." responsible to, them. Your Committee believe, that the interests of suitors will generally be
The gentlemen present at the above meeting best consulted by measures which tend to raise the character and position of the whole
James Parker, Esq., Vice-Chairman of the Profession, and then by leaving the public to Law Union, and Mr. Durrant, the Solicitor, select for themselves their own professional attended as a Deputation. advisers. A Bill has been brought into the House of
Daniel Burges, sen., Chairman of Meeting, Commons to substitute Declaration for Oaths late Town Clerk and father of the present in certain cases. The object of this Bill is also Town Clerk, and Chairman of the Bristol met by some of the clauses of the second Law Association. Common Law Procedure Act, and it is not
H. Sidney Wasbrough, Esq., Secretary of probable, therefore, that both will be passed. A Bill has been brought in to enable execu
the Bristol Law Association, tion to issue in any part of the United King- W. 0. Hare, Esq., Clerk of Peace and dom under a judgment obtained in any Court Deputy-Sheriff. in England, Scotland, or Ireland. This Bill
F. R. Ward, Esq., Local Director of Law is substantially the same as one which was
Union. prepared three years ago by your Committee, and placed in the hands of Lord Lyndhurst, by Alfred Brittan, Esq. F. V. Jacques, Esq. whom, however, the matter was not pressed. Thomas Danger, Esq. Chas. Bevan, Esq.
A Bill has been brought in to amend the G. L. King, Esq. G. W. Nalder, Esq. Laws regarding actions for Criminal Conversa- Giles Greville, Esq. Chas. Greville, Esq. tion, and the protection of women in such actions. It does not appear likely that this We understand that the Chairman of the Bill will be opposed, and it will remove what meeting and several others signified their aphas long been felt to be a disgrace to our proval of the liberal plan of the company by judicial system.
Altogether, up to the present time, 68 Law becoming shareholders. It appears that the
ENFRANCHISEMENT OF COPY. this number will be very considerably increas
HOLDS. ed before the end of the Session.
The Association at present numbers 903 To the Editor of the Legal Observer. members, of whom 239 are metropolitan, and SIR,—It is much to be regretted, when 664 provincial. There are 142 life members, questions affecting rights in property, are disand 761 annual subscribers. During the year, passion, prejudice
, unfairness and injustice,
cussed otherwise than with freedom from including arrears, 516 subscriptions have been but the petition of the copyholders of the received. The total income has amounted to Kennington manor appears to me to be 5631. 16s. 3d., and the expenses, including lia-chargeable with all those faults. bilities, to 4991. 10s. Id.
The tone of the petition generally, and the charge of attempted extortion, shows passion.
The attack on the system of copyholds uni