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Ree. Oct 27, 1892

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PREVIOUS to the passage of the Justices Act the principal statutes in force in Queensland relating to the powers and authorities of Justices of the Peace were those known as Jervis's Acts''-11 and 12 Vic. c. 42, 11 and 12 Vic. c. 43, and 11 and 12 Vic. c. 41--together with the statute of New South Wales (14 Vic. No. 43) which adopted them, and the subsequent amendments of it (17 Vic. No. 39 and 37 Vic. No. 4). Some years ago Sir James Cockle, the late learned Chief Justice of Queensland, was induced before his departure from the Colony to undertake the task of consolidating and simplifying the language of these Acts, and under his direction a series of Bills was drawn for that purpose, each dealing with a separate branch of the law relating to Justices. The present Act is founded upon his work, but includes many important alterations in the law not contemplated by him. The framers of the Act have considered it more convenient to embody the whole law in one statute, and have adopted the more modern form in which Acts of Parliament are now drawn. After many revisions the Bill was first brought into the Legislative Council in September, 1885, and was most favourably received. It passed its various stages with no material alterations and was transmitted to the Legislative Assembly, but owing to the pressure of business and the lateness of the session did not then become law. During the recess it was again carefully revised and underwent some slight modifications in form. It was presented to the Assembly on the 15th of July, 1886, and having passed both Houses was assented to on the 13th of October.

Although the Act may fairly be considered more simple than Jervis's Acts, so that it may be expected that Justices will have no

difficulty in its interpretation, still it is hoped that the following
précis may

be of use to those who are called upon to administer its
provisions for the first time.

The Justices Act is divided into ten Parts. Part I. is preliminary.
Part II. treats of the appointment and removal of Justices. In
Part III. general provisions are enacted respecting their powers and
authorities and the extent of their jurisdiction.

The offences cognizable by Justices are of three kinds-indictable

offences, simple offences, and breaches of duty. So much of the

preliminary procedure as is common to all of them is included in Part

IV. To a large extent the jurisdiction in indictable offences is limited

to hearing the matter of the complaint, up to and including the com-

mittal or discharge. In some cases, however, Justices have power to

punish summarily. The former class are dealt with in Part V., the

latter in Part VII. Their jurisdiction in cases of simple offences and

breaches of duty is unlimited, subject to appeal to a higher court. The

subject of simple offences and breaches of duty is dealt with in Part

VI., and that of appeals in Part IX.

Another portion of the ancient jurisdiction of Justices is that

of requiring sureties of the peace and for good behaviour. The

provisions respecting this jurisdiction, the exercise of which has

hitherto been accompanied by some doubts, and by many anomalies,

which this Act seeks to remove, are contained in Part VIII. Part X.

supplements the provisions of Part III., and ensures generally the
safety of Justices while acting in the due execution of their office.

Part I. provides for the repeal of the statutes specified in the
First Schedule (s. 2), and for the commencement of the Act on the
1st of January, 1887 (s. 3); and by section 5 the powers and authorities
conferred on Justices by other Acts are preserved in so far as they do
not clash with the provisions of this Act.

The interpretation clause (s. 4) contains, in accordance with
modern custom, definitions of terms of frequent occurrence in the
Act, the use of which facilitates the concise and clear statement of the
law. To the definitions of “Indictable Offence," "Simple Offence,"

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and “Breach of Duty," special attention should be given, because the arrangement of the Act is, to some extent, based upon them. They are as follows:

“Indictable Offence"-An offence which may be prosecuted

before the Supreme Court, or other Court having jurisdic-
tion in that behalf, by information in the name of the

Attorney-General or other authorised officer.
Simple Offence "-Any offence (indictable or not) punishable,

on summary conviction before Justices, by fine, imprison

ment, or otherwise. “ Breach of Duty”-Any act or omission (not being a simple

offence or a non-payment of a mere debt) upon complaint
whereof Justices

make an order on any person

for the payment of money, or for doing, or refraining from doing,

any other act. The use of the two latter definitions—which correspond substantially with the terms délit and contravention used in French law-was suggested by Sir James Cockle, although the terms used by him were somewhat different.

If we except the jurisdiction in cases of surety of the peace and for good behaviour, the provisions respecting which are preventive rather than remedial, then every offence with which Justices may deal is included in one of these three classes. The value of the definitions will be at once apparent upon a perusal of the Act.

PART II.–JUSTICES. Justices may be appointed by General Commission of the Peace under the Great Seal, or specially by the Governor in Council (s. 6). Members of the Executive Council, and Judges of the Supreme Court and District Court (s. 10) are Justices ex officio, as are also Chairmen, for the time being, of Municipal Districts (s. 8), but only for their districts.

Justices may be Justices for the whole Colony, or may have a jurisdiction limited to a specified district, outside which they must be careful not to act, except in a few cases referred to below. Up to the present time, however, no limited Commission has been issued, and the Justices of limited jurisdiction have been only the chairmen of muni. cipal districts acting as Justices by virtue of their office.

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