« EelmineJätka »
THE COVENANT TO PAY RATES AND TAXES. The covenant to pay rates, taxes, and assessments, is one the importance of which may be said to increase daily, chiefly in consequence of the power vested in public authorities to require sanitary improvements to be carried out, under the Public Health Acts, in premises situated within their district. The whole subject, as the result of judicial decisions more or less in conflict, may be said to be in somewhat of a tangle; nor would it seem probable that the latest decision, that of Brett v. Rogers, before Justices Wright and Bruce, Jan. 29 (noted ante, p. 318 ; 13 Times L. Rep. 175)—will tend in any degree to lessen the difficulty. The object of the covenant is of course to ensure that the landlord shall get his rent in full without deduction, by throwing upon the tenant liability for all payments-other than those like property tax and tithe-rentcharge, which he is forbidden by statute to bear--that may be exacted in respect of improvements executed for the benefit of the premises by, or by order of, the public authority. The distinction involved in the words“ by, or by order of” is important, because under some statutes the work in question has to be done by the public body itself, and payment for it can be exacted from the landlord or owner primarily and immediately (the Metropolis Management Act 1855, in respect of road-paving, 18 & 19 Vict. c. 120, sect. 105, is an example); whilst under others the work has to be done by order of the public authority, but by the owner of the premises, and the power of the authority to do the work and charge him with the expense only arises upon his default in complying with their order. The execution of sanitary repairs or improvements under the Public Health Acts belongs, as will be clearly seen on looking at those Acts (sects. 94 et seq. of the General Act, and sect. 4 of the London Act), to this latter category.
Now, the distinction may perhaps seem a fine one, but it has nevertheless become firmly established, that a payment exacted from the owner of premises ander these latter circumstances is not (like one exacted under the former) a payment" in respect of the premises ” at all, but is a payment in the nature of a penalty exacted in respect of his neglect to perform his duty. Consequently, in the absence of words in the covenant amounting to what may be called an indemnity, the tenant in these circumstances has always been held not to be liable. This was the decision (in 1867) of the Court of Common Pleas-consisting of Chief Justice Bovill and Justices Willes, Keating, and Montague Smith—in the case of Tidswell v. Whitworth (15 L. T. Rep. 574 ; L. Rep. 2 C. P. 326), a case the authority of which has been repeatedly recognised.
Starting accordingly from this point, the struggle has always been as to whether, in cases of this class, a word of indemnity has been used or not: if it has, the tenant is liable ; if it has not, he is not liable. Now it will be noticed that, although in the above case, where the tenant had undertaken to pay and discharge all taxes, rates, assessments, and impositions payable in respect of the demised premises, the covenant contained the word “ impositions ?-a word, as will be conceded, of very large scope-the Court held that such scope must be narrowed by the collocation of that word with the others in the covenant, that it only referred to payments of a recurring character in the nature of rates, taxes, and assessments, and that consequently it was not a word of indemnity. Yet when a similar covenant, with the substitution of “outgoings” for “ impositions,” came to be construed by the Court of Exchequer in 1874, in Crosse v. Raw (L. Rep. 9 Ex. 209), the Court, departing from that rule, held the tenant to be liable. It is difficult to see why, according to the ordinary use of the English language, a covenant to pay outgoings imports an obligation to indemnify the lessor against a breach of his statutory duty, when a covenant to pay all impositions which should become payable in respect of the premises had been a few years earlier expressly held not to be a covenant of indemnity. Nevertheless, when the subject came before the Court of Appeal in 1880 in Buad v. Marshall (42 L. T. Rep. 793 ; 5 C. P. Div. 481), we find that Lord Esher, M.R. (then Lord Justice Brett), who dissented from the other members of the court, expressly grounds his judgment in favour of the tenant on the absence of the word “outgoings ” in the covenant. The decision, moreover, in Crosse v. Raw has been so often followed that the word “outgoings ” may be now said to have completely established its claim to be an absolute word of indemnity; and in one of the latest cases on the subject (Tubbs v. Wynne (1897) 1 Q. B. 74), Mr. Justice Collins observed that it was the largest word that could be used in relation to this matter.
Another word which has been the subject of frequent decision in this connection is the word “ charges”; and with reference to that word the rule seems to be that its presence in the covenant will make the tenant liable to both classes of payments now under consideration, unless its effect be limited by words importing that the payments in question are charged or imposed on the demised premises, in which case the liability depends on whether the statute does or does not make the payment a charge on the premises in the legal sense : (Allum v. Dickinson, 47 L. T. Rep. 493 ; 9 Q. B. Div. 632). The only case apparently inconsistent with this rule is that of Raulins v. Briggs (3 C. P. Div. 368), where a covenant to pay and discharge all charges imposed on or in respect of the demised premises was held not to render the tenant liable for the expenses of a sanitary improvement under the Public Health Act; but the attention of the court does not appear to have been drawn to sect. 257 of that Act, which in terms makes such expenses a charge on the premises. It is, by the way, a curious anomaly that the Public Health (London) Act of 1891 differs from the general Act of 1875 in this important particular.
The word, however, which has probably given rise to the greatest amount of difficulty by its presence in the covenant is the word “ duties”; it is in reference to that word that the case of Brett v. Rogers was decided, and (it is submitted) decided wrongly. The word " duties," as pointed ont by Lord Justice Brett in Budd v. Marshall, is ambiguous; it may mean obligations in the wider sense, as for instance the duty of serving on juries ; or it may mean mere sums due or money payments, as for instance in the
expression stamp duties.” In the opinion of Lord Justice Brett the proper meaning to be ascribed to it, in the collocation with rates, taxes, and assessments in which it occurred in the covenant in Budd v. Marshall, was the latter; but the other members of the Court held that its true meaning was that of obligations in the larger sense, and that the tenant by force of it became liable for a sanitary improvement of the class now in question. In that case, however, it will be noticed that the covenant was to bear, pay, and discharge all duties. But in Brett v. Rogers the covenant contained only the word “pay,” the other governing words “ bear” and “ discharge” being omitted ; and it is submitted that this makes an important difference. A person cannot in any proper or ordinary sense of the words be said to “pay an obligation; and it seems clear that the only meaning capable of being attached to the word “duties" in a covenant" to pay all taxes, rates, duties, and assessments" is the one of “sums due" which Lord Justice Brett thought the word ought to bear in Budd v. Marshall. But, if that be so, the distinction already adverted to as having formed the ratio decidendi in Tidswell v. Whitworth—that, namely, between sums due directly to the public body which are within such a covenant on the one hand, and sums due to them, but only by way of penalty, which are not within it on the other--becomes important, and should, it is thought, have sufficed to decide the case in favour of the tenant. It is true that no decision has apparently yet been reported where the tenant has got rid of liability where his covenant contained the word “duties”; and so far no doubt the court in Brett v. Rogers was justified in saying it would be going “ contrary to the current of the decisions " if it held him free from liability. But there is no magic in the use of the word ; and if the above reasoning be correct, its presence ought not to have shifted to the tenant the burden of the payment which the statute obviously contemplated should, in the absence of a clearly shown agreement to the contrary, fall upon the landlord. If that reasoning, moreover, be correct, the Court was clearly in error in saying that the case was not distinguishable from Payne v. Burridge, 1844 (12 M. & W. 727), a case where the statute which was in question, unlike the Public Health Act, entitled the authority to charge the owner of the premises, primarily and directly, with the cost of the improvement. Precisely the same observation applies to another case on which the learned judges seem to have relied, that of Thompson v. Lapworth (17 L. T. Rep. 507; L. Rep. 3 C. P. 149), where the Court, following the lastmentioned case, and expressly distinguishing their own decision of the previous year in Tidswell v. Whitworth on the ground already explained, held that a covenant to “pay and discharge all taxes, rates, duties, and assessments rendered the tenant liable for paving expenses claimed directly by the vestry from the owner under the Metropolis Management Acts 1855 and 1862. As for the other case relied upon (Sweet v. Seager, 1857 (2 C. B. N. S. 119), the statutory provision there in question (18 & 19 Vict. c. 120, s. 73) no doubt was one of a nature analogous to the provision in the Public Health Act, in so far as the power in the public body to demand payment from the owner only arose upon his default. But the real explanation of that case is beyond doubt to be looked for in the extraordinarily comprehensive terms of the covenant there found, which, by the use of other words such as “burdens” and “services," clearly contemplated a complete indemnity to the landlord. And this is the explanation of it given by all the judges who dealt with it in Tidswell v. Whitworth.
COMMENTS ON CASES.
An interesting point in election law was raised in the case of Morris and others v. Beeves and others, in which Justices Hawkins and Kennedy gave a considered judgment on Feb. 27. The case arose out of a closely contested election for the School Board for Brighton and Preston, and the question to which we wish to refer was as to the counting of votes where an elector had put a cross against the name of one candidate only. The presumption which would at first sight commend itself in such a case would be, that the elector intended to exhaust the votes which the law gives him in favour of the candidate against whose name the cross was placed. But while this theory would work very well in cases where a single mark was made, or the number of marks made was a multiple of the total number of permissible votes, it would obviously break down, or, at least, have to be displaced by a contrary presumption, in dealing with figures which were not multiples of that number. The Court held that the duty of the returning officer was to record a vote for each cross. This is, no doubt, the best solution of the difficulty under the circumstances, although fresh provisions may possibly be needed to safeguard the right of an elector who wishes to exercise his full voting power in favour of a single candidate. The curious thing is, that the Legislature, which has produced a ballot and election law, drawn with such laborious minuteness, should not have anticipated so obvious a problem, and prevented it from arising by express enactment.
THERE are very different rules as to the duties of solicitors with regard to delivery or production of their clients' papers according as the solicitor discharges himself or is discharged by his client: (vide Cordery on Law Re. lating to Solicitors, 2nd edit. p. 303). In the first event, the client or the solicitor appointed to replace the ex-solicitor is entitled to possess all the papers, and à fortiori can call for their production or inspection. In the second alternative no such obligation attaches, for said Lord Eldon in Lord v. Wormleighton (Jac. 580), “ The discharged solicitor ought to be able to make use of the non-production of the papers in order to get what is due to him.” Upon these grounds Mr. Justice Kekewich determined, in Re Biggs and Roche (noted ante, p. 36-4) not to compel solicitors discharged by their client to allow her to inspect her documents and perhaps acquire by
memory cr by notes all the information she desired, thereby prejudicing seriously the value of the lien. There are certain exceptions to the abovementioned rales pointed out by Mr. Cordery (Ibid.): thus, when an order has been made before the solicitors were changed, the discharged solicitor must produce it for entry or for purposes of correction ; and again, documents obtained with notice of other people's rights in a pending administration must not be retained to their damage.
In spite of the fusion of law and equity there is still a great protection in obtaining the legal estate, and the recent case of London and County Banking Company v. Goddard (noted ante, p. 389) shows a novel way in which it may be acquired. A mortgagor suppressed an equitable mortgage, deposited the title deeds showing a title in bimself with the bank, and declared himself a trustee for them and empowered them to remove him or any other person from the trusteeship and to appoint new trustees in their place, and by a declaration to vest the mortgagor's interest in the new trustees. He afterwards effected a legal mortgage to A., subject to the deposit with the bank and to the memorandum accompanying it. When the mortgagor became bankrupt, the bank appointed their general managers trustees in his place and the place of A., and declared that the legal estate in the mortgaged premises should vest in them (see Trustee Act 1893, s. 12 (1). Mr. Justice North held that, as A. had taken his security with notice of the rights of the bank, he was a trustee, and that the vesting declaration had taken the legal estate out of him and passed it to the new trustees. Seeing that their trustees had the legal estate, the bank had priority over the equitable mortgagee whose security had been concealed from them.
air looking over his neighbour's land. Nothing could be a greater nuisance than completely to block such windows by a wall immediately opposite to them. Yet a neighbour might do this at any time within twenty years. At the same time a diminution of the quantity of air coming to a defined aperture in a house which has existed for twenty years so considerable as to cause a nuisance has been held to give a cause of action. Why should not a plaintiff recover in cases where "undefined" air bas been excluded to a substantial degree from his premises generally? The maxim Sic utere tuo ut alienum non lædas is as applicable to the latter as it is to the former state of things. Where the question of light and not air is concerned the courts are jealous of a man's interest.
Yet air is as important as light in a dwelling-house if it be not so in the case of business premises. It is for this reason that it seems unfortunate that the intimation of their Lordships which led to the appellants recovering damages for the dimination of "undefined ” air, is likely to benefit only themselves. On the other hand, the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which was practically set aside, stands to add weight to the authorities which show that in the case of “undefined” air, although enjoyed for twenty years, the party aggriered has no remedy. In the case of “ defined” air he may have a cause of action if he can show prescriptive right to enjoyment, or it may be assumed from the evidence that he is entitled to it by some lost grant or agreement binding upon the owner of the servient tenement.
[We shall discuss this important subject at length next week.-Ed.]
CAN a plaintiff claim compensation for diminution of air to bis premises generally caused by the defendant's new building ? It is to be regretted that the case of Chastey and another v. Ackland which was argued in the House of Lords last week ended in a settlement, because it raised a question, with regard to compensation for interference with the free access of air to a man's premises generally, on wbich curiously enough there is no direct authority. The facts that gave rise to the action were shortly these : The respondent had built additions to his premises which adjoined those of the appellants, with the result that the light and air that formerly the appellants enjoyed were materially interfered with. Mr. Justice Cave, who tried the action at the Exeter Assizes in 1895, decided that there had been an interference with the light to certain windows in the appellants' house, and gave £10 damages in respect of that part of their claim. He decided also that the respondent's new buildings “ seriously and prejudicially” affected the ventilation of the appellants' back premises, and granted an injunction to restrain him in respect of such interference. The defendant appealed to the Court of Appeal, consisting of Lords Justices Lindley, Lopes, and Kay. Their Lordships dissolved the injunction, expressing an opinion that the interference with the flow of air to the appellants’ premises was not such as, for the reasons stated, created an actionable wrong, but confirmed the judgment of the court below so far as the £10 awarded for the loss of light. The appellants then appealed to the House of Lords, and there contended that the interference of the free passage of air to their back premises which they formerly enjoyed rendered their house lees wholesome and healthy, and amounted to a nuisance in legal parlance, which of itself gave them a right of action for compensation. They did not base their novel claim on any prescriptive right, because the premises were admittedly of too modern an erection to bring them within the statute. On the other hand, it was submitted that, so far as the alleged interference with air was concerned, there was no actionable wrong; the Prescription Act (2 & 3 Will. 4, c. 71) did not apply to air, and under the circumstances no implied covenant could be presumed. Moreover, the respondent having done nothing to pollute the air which came to the appellants' premises, he could not be restrained from building on his own land simply because the new buildings would render the appellants' premises less airy. Their Lordships considered that this was a case in which the appellants ought to be compensated by the respondent, but they apparently did not see their way in the face of the authorities cited to revive the injunction dissolved by the Court of Appeal, and they suggested that the parties should come to terms. In the result the respondent agreed to pay £300 in respect not only of the interference to the appellants' light, but also expressly for the obstruction caused to the access of undefined air to their premises together with all costs. This sum was to be in place of tho £10 directed to be paid in the court below as damages for obstruction of light alone. As the law now stands the authorities show that where the interference has reference to air which was formerly received by means of a particular opening and was therefore capable in some degree of being defined and ascertained, then the party aggrieved can in certain cases recover compensation for a substantial, but not a fanciful diminution of that particular flow of air. Hall v. Lichfield Brewery Company (13 L. T. Rep. 380) was a case where tho plaintiff had for upwards of thirty years enjoyed a free access of air to his slaughter-house through two defined apertures, and there were circumstances in the case raising the presumption of an implied covenant. It was a user, too, which might have been interrupte), and the Court of Appeal, in deciding for these reasons that the plaintiff had a right to recover, laid down the rule that the law would not imply a grant except in the case of something definite. The undefined passage of air was too vague to support a right of action for interference, and except in extreme cases any interference with the free access of air by new buildings would come within the rule damnum absque injuria. But can an interference with light which is not otherwise actionable be restrained on the ground of a nuisance ? Lord Justice Bramwell, in Bryant v. Lefever (40 L. T. Rep. 579; 4 C.P. Div. 172), says that it cannot. Suppose a man were to build a house ou the edge of his own land with windows for the admission of light and
A POINT of great importance to solicitors concerning the costs of a wife respondent in a divorce action came last week before Mr. Justice Barnes in the case of Walker v. Walker and Lawson. In that case the husband alleged the adultery of his wife with the co-respondent, and she in her answer denied the adultery, and pleaded craelty, desertion, and the petitioner's own adultery. After the decree nisi, counsel for the wife asked for the usual order for tbe wife's costs, but this was opposed on the ground that the charges against the husband were made without the slightest foundation, or any evidence to support them, and that the case should never have been defended, if a proper investigation into the case had been made, and that it was not a question of bona fides in defending, but whether an investigation had been entered into which would justify the defence being continued. The principle on which the court acts in these cases was clearly laid down by Jessel, M R. in the case of Robertson v. Robertson (6 P. Div. 122). In bis judgment in that case he said : If the solicitor himself conducts the litigation properly, if he fairly investigates the charges and sees a reasonable foundation for a defence, he is not to lose his costs and the fair remuneration for his labour because he is not successful. No solicitor would engage in the practice of the profession on the terms of not getting paid whenever he was not successful, and therefore, unless he himself has been guilty of misconduct, there is no reason for depriving him of his costs. It appears to me, therefore, that when the defence is fairly and reasonably conducted, the solicitor ought to be paid in full his costs; that is, costs properly incurred.” That rule was followed and acted upon in the case of Ash v. Ash (1893) P. 222), and Mr. Justice Barnes said that it was a principle which should be acted upon strictly, as many husbands were put to great expense in cases which should never be defended, and in many cases which never came into court at all. In the present case all the wife's costs were disallowed as against the husband except those wbich had been incurred for investigating the case, which only were those that had been “properly incurred,” and in future all costs of unreasonable and improper defences will be treated in the same manner. This is as it should be, for many husbands, where there are no grounds whatever for a wife's defence, are deterred from bringing their suit, because of the great expense of the wife's costs. So in future we may hope that none but substantial defences will be entered on the record, for where there are no proper grounds, only the costs of investigating will be allowed the wife.
County Palatine appeals will not be taken till next month.
The Revenue paper will be taken on Monday, the 15th March, and following days.
Mr. Justice Kekewich will preside at the Law Writer's Festival at the King's Hall, Holborn Restaurant, on Wednesday, the 31st inst.
Sir Albert Rollit, M.P., has been re-elected president of the Association of Municipal Corporations.
The Lord Chancellor has accepted an invitation to be present at the annual dinner of the Portsmouth Conservative Association on the 7th April.
The Lord Mayor of Manchester entertained Justices Collins and Kennedy, Her Majesty's Judges of Assize, at a banquet in the Town Hall on the 25th ult.
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman reported to the House of Commons, on Monday, that the Chairmen's Panel had appointed Sir James Fergusson to act as chairman of the Standing Committee on Law.
“ Sir Edward Clarke, Q.C., M.P.,” is the title of the nineteenth of a series of articles on Our Judges and Famous Lawyers now appearing in Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper.
The Lord Chancellor of Ireland and Lady Ashbourne have issued invitations for a reception to be given in the King's Inns on Thursday, the 11th March, to the Lord Lieutenant and Countess Cadogan and the Lord Chancellor of England.
Mr. H. D. Greene, Q.C., M.P., presided at a special meeting of the Churı h Burial, Funeral, and Monrning Reform Association, held at the Westminster Palace Hotel on Friday, the 26th ult.
A book by Mr. Edward James Castle, Q.C., has been published by Messrs. Sampson Low, Marston, and Co. under the title “ Shakespeare, Bacon, Jonson, and Greene: a Study."
The Legal Musical Society will hold a ladies concert at the Freemason's Tavern, Great Queen-street, Lincoln's Inn-fields, on Friday evening the 12th inst. Mr. H. F. Dickens, Q.C., will take the chair.
The Solicitors' Managing Clerks' annual smoking concert will take place at the King's Hall, Holborn Restaurant, on Thursday evening the 25th inst.
The Rer. H. G. D. Latham has been appointed by the Council Warden of the “Inps of Court Mission” in Central London. Mr. Latham, who was ordained in 1892, is a M.A. of Cambridge, and a son of Mr. F. L. Latham, of the Inner Temple, late Advocate-General at Bombay.
At the ordinary monthly meeting of the Blaenavon Urban District Council, beld on Wednesday evening, the 24th ult., a letter was read from the Lord Chancellor sanctioning the establishment of a County Court for the town.
The Intermediate Sessions for the county of Middlesex were commenced last Monday, at the Guildhall, Westminster, before Mr. Littler, C.B., Q.C., chairman, Mr. Montague Sharpe, deputy-chairman, and other justices. The calendar contained the names of twenty-two persons charged with offences.
The March General Sessions of the county of London for the trial of cases arising on the north side of the Thames were opened on Monday, at the Sessions-house, Clerkenwell, before Mr. M'Connell, Q.C., chairman, Mr. Loveland Loveland, deputy-chairman, and other justices. The calendar contains the names of sixty-one persons charged with offences.
The Law Courts branch of the Solicitor's Department of the Treasury took possession last Monday of the new offices which have been provided for the purpose in the Royal Courts of Justice. The offices consist of fise rooms,
and they are situate on the third floor of the central block of buildings.
The members of the United Club held a smoking “At Home" last week at the Westminster Palace Hotel, Mr. C. A. Whitmore, M.P. occupied the chair, and among others present were Sir Edward Clarke, Q.C., M.P., Mr. H. C. Richards, M.P., Mr. H. D. Greene, Q.C., M.P., and Mr. Gore-Browne (vice-chairman).
On taking his seat at Southwark County Court last Monday, DeputyJudge Sills expressed his regret that Mr. Bristowe bad been obliged to resign owing to ill-health. He had, he said, never known a more honourable, high-minded and careful judge, whose sole aim it had been to do complete justice. Mr. Sills announced that Mr. Bristowe would be suc. ceeded by his Honour Judge Addison, who would sit in that court on Monday, the 22nd Marcb.
Mr. Edward Wingfield, C.B., who has been appointed to succeed Sir Robert Meade as Permanent Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, was born in 1834, educated at Winchester and New College, and called to the Bar in 1859. He was appointed assistant under-secretary at the Colonial Office in 1878. He is junior to Mr. John Bramston, who stands at present next below the Permanent Under-Secretary, but Mr. Branston, it is understood, will retire almost at the same time as does Sir Robert Meade.
The Chief Clerks are henceforth to be designated “Masters," thas placing them in the same position as their brethren on the common law side. It has always been a matter of comment that professional men occupying such important positions, and discbarging such onerous duties should be called “ clerks.” There is a great deal in a name, especially if it is an official title; and many of the excellent officials above described will no doubt be pleased to be kaown as “ Master" rather than Chief Clerk.
During the progress of a case, before Mr. Justico Wright last Saturday, it transpired that Mr. Ashton Cross, who was counsel for one of the parties, had written letters to the solicitors for the opposite party containing negotiations relating to the action.--Mr. Ashton Cross proceeded to read the letters.- Mr. Justice Wright: Do not think I am saying anything offensive, but is it usual for counsel to negotiate directly with the solicitors on the other side ?–Mr. Ashton Cross: I had no alternative in the present case.- Mr. Justice Wright: These negotiations ought not to have taken place. It puts counsel in the position of witness. ---Mr. Ashton Cross : It was done under great pressure. It was necessary in this case.- Mr. Justice Wright: I do not know. But I will say no more.
The announcement that the Chancery chief clerks are henceforth to be styled “masters ” is not, perhaps, a matter of great public importance. At the same time it is interesting to remember that the office of Masters in Chancery dates, according to “Kerby's History of Equity," from before the Conquest. They appear to have been present as councillors in the Witan, and later in the House of Lords. Some idea of their social position can be gained from a complaint made in the time of Richard II. by the Commons, to the effect that they were over fatt both in boddie and purse, and over well furred in their benefices, and put the King to veiry great cost more than needed." From sitting with the Chancellor on the Bench, and afterwards with a judge, as his deputies, they became in more recent times the officials who supervised the affairs of estates administered in Chancery. The scandalous delays, costliness, and general inefficiency of their department have been immortalised by Dickens in "Bleak House.” In 1852 they were abolished, and were replaced by chief clerks acting directly under the control of the judges.- Westminster Gazette.
The official journal of Holland publishes a Royal decree instituting a permanent commission of the State charged with the preparation of the codification of international private law, inaugurated by the Convention of the Hague of the 14th Nov. 1886. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of Justice maintain in their report to the Queen Regent that it is incumbent upon the Government of the Netherlands to render effectual the programme communicated by it to the Powers of Continental Europe at the first conference held at the Hague in 1890. M. Asser, member of the Council of State of the Netherlands, who presided over the diplomatic conferences at the Hague in 1893 and 1894, has been named president of the commission.
Hitherto the County Court business from Middlesbrough has been transacted at Stockton, but now Middleabrough is to have a separate court. At a meeting of the General Purposes Committee of the Middlesbrough Corporation a letter was read from Mr. K. Muir Mackenzie, on behalf of the Lord Chancellor, stating that, having given full consideration to the representations made to him, the Lord Chancellor had determined that there should be a separate court for Middlesbrough. Before the order was made bis Lordship desired to know what accommodation was available for the court and offices. The Town Clerk (Mr. George Bainbridge) said he had come to some agreement as to a site in Wilson-street for a court and offices, but he would have to make further inquiries.
Mr. Alfred Billson, the new member for Halifax, is a native of Leicester, being the son of Mr. William Billson, of that town, where he was born on the 18th April 1839. He is a solicitor in practice at Liverpool, was admitted in 1860, and bas long been prominent in the local politics cf Liverpool ; was sometime honorary secretary of the Liberal Association there, and is part proprietor of a local newspaper. At the General Election of 1892 he was elected for the Barnstaple Division, North-West Devonshire, but failed to retain his seat in 1895, when Sir William Gall defeated him. Since then he endeavoured to re-enter the House of Commons by way of East Bradford. That was also a three-cornered contest, and ended in Mr. Billson's defcat.
By his will, which bears date the 17th June 1890, with a codicil made the 29th Aug. 1890, Mr. James Hopgood, of Southside, Clapham Common, formerly of the firm of James and John Hopgood, solicitor, who died on the 2nd Feb. last, aged eighty-six years, leaving personal estate valued at £75,079 123. 9d., bequeathed to his brother, Mr. John Hopgood, and his nephew, Mr. Cecil Dowson, as executors, £1000 each; to his coachman and bis gardener £100 each ; to his late wife's cousin Ellen Southam, his leasehold house No. 17, Berwick-street, Pimlico, and £4000; to the British and Foreign Unitarian Association, Essex-street, Strand, for its general purposes £2000; and to the Metropolitan Yree Hospital, Gray's. inn-road, £1000. The late Mr. Hopgood left all the residue of his property in equal sbares to his brother and his sisters living at the time of his death.
By kind permission of the Benchers, the members of the Inns of Corrt Orchestral Society, gave a miscellaneous concert in the Hall of the Middle Temple on Monday evening, the 1st March. The programme was somewhat long, and included Mendelssohn's Symphony in A major (** The Italian ") and other less ambitious selections by the orchestra, which has very considerably improved since last year. Mr. Arthur Payne, who as usual conducted, played the “ Allegro" movement of Beethoven's Concerto for violin and band, and Mrs. T. T. Bucknill gave a delightful and briliiant rendering of Weber's Concertstuck for Pianoforte and Orchestra. During the evening Miss Manisty and Dr. W. A. Aikin con. tributed some excellent songs. In the interval tea and coffee were served in the Parliament chamber, and the society may well be satisfied with the success of their first ladies' concert of this season.
The appeal case of Allen v. Flood and another, which involves several important questions, one being whether the members of a trade union are liable for the acts of a district delegate of such union, is fixed to be reargued before the judicial members of the House of Lords on Thursday, the 25th March, when the Lord Chief Justice (Lord Russell) and several of the Sapreme Court judges have been summoned to be in attendance to hear the arguments, after which they will deliver separate opinions for the guidance of the law lords. The judges will appear attired in their scarlet robes and full-bottomed wigs. The last occasion on which the judges attended the House of Lords for a similar purpose was in November, 1880, on the hearing of the case of Dalton v. Angus, when Baron Pollock and Jastices Field, Lindley, Manisty, Lopes, Fry, and Bowen were present on four days, and, after considerable deliberation, delivered elaborate and exhaustive individual opinions on the case. The Lords then gave final judgment in the matter.
A Parliamentary paper which has just been issued gives the totil amounts of the real and personal property on which death doties were assessed in the United Kingdom during the year 1895.96, the net amount of death duties received, and the total number and aggregate value of estates exempted. The total amounts of the personal property assessed under the following heads were : Estate duty, £183,262,000 ; settlement estate duty, £11,007,000; probate and inventory daty, £5,343,000 ; account duty, £913,000; temporary estate duty, £1,704,000 ; legacy duty (gross), £64,690,000; and succession daty (approximate gross), £6,806,000. The total amounts of real property assessed were: Estate duty, £29,971,000; settlement estate duty, £1,469,000; temporary estate duty, £14,584,000; and succession duty (approximate), £27,224,000. The net amount of death duties received under each of the following heads, including the duty surrendered to local taxation, was: Estate duty, £9,797,309; settler e t estate duty, £125,720 ; probate duty, £153,254 ; account duty, £27,392 ; temporary estate caty, £162,888 ; legacy duty, £2,730,861 ; succession duty, £1,051,512; an! corporation duty, £39,672.
The annual dinner in connection with the Association of Municipal Corporations was held on Friday, the 26th ult., at the Hôtel Métropole. Sir Albert K. Rollit. M.P., presided. The loyal and patriotic toasts having been drunk Sir M. W. Ridley, in responding for the toast of Her Majesty's Ministers, expressed his conviction that at the present junctare of political affairs they all felt that Her Majesty's Government should be left more or less with a free hand. Nothing, he thought, was more significant of Her Majesty's reign than the growth of their municipal life. For the toast of the Houses of Parliament, proposed by Mr. J. W. Hamilton, Q.C. (Recorder of Oldham), Mr. Sydney Gedge, M.P., responded. Cardinal Vaughan afterwards proposed “ The Bench and the Bar," for which Mr. Justice Wright and Mr. Bigham, Q.C., responded. Mr. Samuel Hoare, M.P., proposed “The Lord Mayors, Mayors, and Municipalities of the United Kingdom.” The Lord Mayor and the Mayors of Blackburn and Rochester acknowledged the toast. The Town Clerk of Birmingham proposed “The Local Government Board and other Public Departments of the State." Mr. T. W. Russell, M.P., in reply, remarked that the Local Government Board was struggling with work that no possible department could overtake, and some reorganisation of the department was absolutely necessary. Other toasts followed.
The Land Transfer Bill, introduced by the Lord Chancellor, has been issued. It is described as “A Bill intituled an Act to establish a real representative, and to amend the Land Transfer Act, 1875.” The Bill is accompanied by the following memorandum :-“This Bill is founded on the Bill of 1895, as ordered to be printed for the House of Commons on the 23rd April in that year, with various alterations and additions. In framing these, the criticisms and suggestions laid before the Select Committee of the House of Commons of 1895 have been carefully considered, and have for the most part been complied with. The compulsory clause has been modified, and has been placed at the end of the Bill, instead of at the beginning, as heretofore, in order to admit of the discussion and settlement of the other provisions of the Bill before dealing with that question; and a scale of inclusive fees for compulsory districts, founded on statistics collected for the purpose, has been added, subject to the consent of the Treasury, in order to show, as clearly as possible, the results of the system in regard to economy of cost. This being done, it seemed best to re-arrange the other clauses of the Bill by placing first, by them. selves, the real representative clauses, which apply to all land, registered and unregistered, and which form an independent piece of legislation ; next the general amendments of the Land Transfer Act, some of the less important of which have, for conciseness, been arranged in a schedule ; then the compulsory clause and insurance fund, and, finally, the 'miscel. laneous.' Explanatory notes are added at the foot of each clause, showing its place in the previous Bill, or the reasons for its introduction now.”
Patent--Action for Infringement-Subsequent Threats-Claim for Injunc
tion to restrain such Threats-Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks Act 1883 (46 & 47 Vict. c. 57), 8. 32.—The plaintiffs brought an action against the defendants for infringement of their patent. The defendants put in a defence and counter-claim. The defence was that they were assignees of a licence to use the plaintiffs' patent. The plaintiffs then published a circular to the effect that their patent was being infringed, and that they were bringing a large number of actions against specified alleged infringers, including the action against the defendants. The plaintiffs contended that, though they had given a licence to one Seddon to use their patent, there were no rights under the circumstances to assign to the defendants without their consent; a consent that had never been granted. Sect. 32 of the Patents, &c., Act 1883 enacts as follows : “ Where any person claiming to be the patentee of an invention, by circulars, advertisements, or otherwise, threatens any other person with any legal proceedings or liability in respect of any alleged manufacture, use, sale, or purchase of the invention, any person or persons aggrieved thereby may bring an action against him, and may obtain an injunction against the continuance of such threats, and may recover such damage, if any, as may have been sustained thereby, if the alleged manufacture, use, sale, or purchase to which the threats related was not in fact an infringement of any legal rights of the person making such threats. Provided that this section shall not apply if the person making such threats with due diligence commences and prosecutes an action for infringement of his patent.” On the application of the defendants Kekewich, J. granted an interlocutory injunction restraining the plaintiffs till trial from publishing the circular referred to. His Lordship granted the injunction under a common law jurisdiction which, in his opinion, existed as in the case where a tenant sued his landlord. The plaintiffs appealed. Held, that the case was not within sect. 32 of the Patents, &c., Act 1883, because of the proviso at the end of this section and in this case an action having been bonú fide brought, even before the circular was issued; that there was no analogy between this case and that where a tenant sued his landlord, for in this case the question between the parties was whether the defendants were licensees at all ; that there was not any malice to support an action for slander of title ; and that, although publication of the circular complained of might greatly damage the defendants, they had no equity to restrain the plaintiffs from stating that they were taking proceedings. Held, therefore, that the injunction must be discharged, and the appeal allowed with costs. Decision of Kekewich, J. reversed.
(The Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company v. The New Seddon Pneumatic Tyre and Self-Closing Tube Company. Ct, of App. No. 2. Lindley, Smith, and Rigby, L.JJ. Feb. 24 and 25.-Counsel : for the appellants, Moulton, Q.C., Roger Wallace, Q.C., J. C. Graham, and A. J. Walter; for the respondents, Buckley, Q.C., Thomas Terrell, Q.C., and Reginald M. Bray. Solicitors : for the appellants, John B. Purchase ;
for the respondents, Snell, Sons, and Greenip.] Practice-Payment into Court with Denial of Liability-Trial with a
Jury-No Information to Jury as to Payment into Court-Validity of Rule-Rules of the Supreme Court, Order XXII., r. 22.—The Rules of the Supreme Court, by Order XXII., r. 22, provide that, “ Where a cause or matter is tried by a judge with a jury, no communication to the jury shall be made until after the verdict is given, either of the fact that money has been paid into court or of the amount paid in. The jury shall be required to find the amount of the debt or damages, as the case may be, without reference to any payment into court.” In this action the plaintiff sought to recover damages from the defendant in respect of personal injuries. The defendant, by his statement of defence, denied liability, and paid £30 into court as being sufficient to satisfy the plaintiff's claim. The action was tried by Mathew, J. with a jury, and the learned judge did not tell the jury, before verdict, that money had been paid into court. The jury found a verdict for the plaintiff, and assessed the damages at £15, and judgment was entered for the defendant. The plaintiff applied for a new trial upon the ground that it was a misdirection on the part of the learned judge not to inform the jury of the payment into court. It was contended that Order XXII., r. 22, was ultra vires and invalid, because the question whether the amount paid into court was sufficient or not was an issue which the plaintiff was entitled to have submitted to the jury, in accordance with the provisions of sect. 22 of the Judicature Act 1875. Sect. 22 provides that, “Nothing in the said Act (Judicature Act 1873), nor in any rule or order made under the powers thereof or of this Act, shall take away or prejudice the right of any party to any action to have the issues for trial by jury submitted and left by the judge to the jury before whom the same shall come for trial, with a proper and complete direction to the jury upon the law, and as to the evidence applicable to such issues.” Held (dismissing the appeal), that rule 22 of Order XXII. was a valid rule, and that the judge was right in not informing the jury of the payment into court.
[Williams v. Goose. Ct. of App. : Lord Esher, M.R., Lopes and Chitty, L.JJ. Feb. 25 and 26.--Counsel: for the appellant, Crump, Q.C. and Hohler ; for the respondent, Dickens, Q.C. and Mallinson. Solicitors : for the appellant, Sismey and Sismey, for Tolhurst, Lovell, and Clinch, Gravesend; for the respondent, L. Kirkman, for Mitchell aud Macartney, Gravesend.]
NOTES OF RECENT DECISIONS NOT
COURT OF APPEAL. Master and Servant--Injuries to Workman-Temporary Absence of Guard
to Circular Saw — Defect in Condition of Machinery-Employers' Liability Act 1880 (43 & 44 Vict. c. 42), s. 1, sub-sect. 1.-The plaintiff was a boy in the service of the defendants at their saw mills. His duties were to stand at a saw bench in which was a circular saw, and to receive the planks as they were passed through the saw by a man named Cook. Part of the saw was above the level of the top of the bench and part was below. The bench was inclosed by boards all round the sides to protect persons working near it from that part of the saw which was below the level of the top of the bench. One of these inclosing boards was removable like a shutter, so as to enable the sawdust collecting underneath the bench to be taken away. Cook had removed this shutter the day before the accident happened which was the subject of this action, and had not put it back in its place. The plaintiff while at work in the saw mills slipped and fell, and, in consequence of the shutter not being in its place, his leg came in contact with the revolving saw and he was seriously injured. By sect. 1 sub-sect. 1, of the Employers' Liability Act 1880, where personal injury is caused to a workman “ by reason of any defect in the condition of the ways, works, machinery, or plant connected with or used in the business of the employer,” he is to have the rights of compensation therein mentioned. The plaintiff brought this action in the Shoreditch County Court. The County Court judge held at the trial, with a jury, that the occasional absence of the shutter or guard did not constitute a “defect in the condition of the ways, works, machinery, or plant," within sect. 1, sub-sect. 1. The plaintiff appealed. The Queen's Bench Division (Wright and Bruce, JJ.) reversed this decision of the County Court judge, and held that there was a “defect in the condition of the machinery” within the section. The case is reported in 75 L. T. Rep. 694. The defendants appealed. Held (affirming the decision of the Queen's Bench Division), that there was a defect in the condition of the machinery, and that upon the other points arising in the case there must be a new trial.
[Tate v. Latham and Co. Ct. of App. : Lord Esher, M.P. and Chitty, L.J. March 1.--Counsel: for the plaintiff, Dodd, Q.C. and W. Addington Willis ; for the defendants, Jelf, Q.C. and H. Lynn. Solicitors : for the plaintiff, Lindus and Bicknell ; for the defendants, Watson, Sons, and Room.]
HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE.-CHANCERY DIVISION. Easement-Right of Way-Covenant and Grant to Persons holding Land under Lease - Construction - Conveyance of Fee to Lessee.
- By deed dated the 13th March 1869 the Governors of Archbishop Whitgift's Charity covenanted and granted with and to John and William Drummond that it should be lawful for them, “ their and his
heirs and assigns, and each of their agents and servants, and the
[Rymer v. McIlroy. Ch. Div. : Byrne, J. Feb. 24 and 25.-Counsel :
Croydon; W. C. Goulding.]
Another-Construction of Waterworks-Notice-Local Government Act
[Corporation oj Huddersfield v. Ravensthorpe Urban District
Watts and Son, Dewsbury.]
ness—Unpaid Purchase Money-Draft Assignment of Lease, and Mort.
[Poole v. Downes. Ch. Div.: Stirling, J. Feb. 25.-Counsel :
Railway Company-Contractors-Agreement for Construction, Moneys
to be paid to Bankers for purposes of Contractors, subject to Guarantee to the Company by Insurance Corporation-Interest-Liquidation by Bankers — Right of Contractors to sue Corporation-Set-off. — The plaintiffs in this case were a company incorporated in 1889 for the purpose of constructing and working a railway from Alcoy to Gandia in Spain and a harbour at the last-mentioned place. The defendants were contractors who andertook the construction of the works. The plaintiffs claimed to recover from the defendants a sum of £10,500 in their hands, and also to recover a further sum of £10,000, for which it was alleged the defendants were liable on their contracts. By their counterclaim the defendants sought to recover similar sums from the Trustees and Execators Insurance Corporation, and to enforce against them a guarantee given to the company in 1891. By an agreement between the company and the contractors, dated the 21st Nov. 1889, the price to be paid for the construction of the works was fixed at the whole capital of the company, whether in shares or debentures. The money as received was to be paid into the bankers and made applicable for payment to the contractors in cash. By an agreement between the contractors and the bankers, dated the 10th Dec. 1889, a sale of certain shares and debentures and an issue to the public was agreed upon, and by a subsequent agreement the bankers agreed to guarantee the interest on the debentures and preference shares for two years from the commencement of the works, at which time the works were to be completed. By an agreement of the 31st Dec. 1889 between the company and the contractors, the latter undertook the payment of sach interest. During the progress of the works, the business of the bankers was transferred to a limited company, who continued to act as bankers, but eventually went into liquidation. The works were to have been completed in two years from Jan. 1890, but, owing to circumstances over which the contractors had no control, this was not done. An extension of time was granted until the end of May 1892, but, as the company alleged, the works were not completed until Jan. 1893. At that time a half-year's interest became payable on the debentures and preference shares, which was not paid by the contractors, and the company paid the interest on the debentures only. Subsequently this action was brought, and on the application of the contractors the matters in dispute were sent to arbitration, and the arbitrator made his award in Nov. 1894. It was first contended in this action that the contractors had completed within the stipulated time. On the evidence it was held that this was not so, and that there was no subsequent agreement by the company to relieve the contractors of their liability for the payment of interest in consequence. Secondly, the arbitrator had found that the company was liable to penalties for not taking over the line at the time when he held it to have been completed. Held, accordingly, that the contractors were entitled to have the amount which was payable by way of such penalty applied in redaction of the interest for which they were liable. Thirdly, the cor pany had agreed to leave the money with the bankers after they were converted into a limited company on being guaranteed against loss by the Trustees Corporation. If the bankers failed to make the necessary payments (which they did) the company was bound to indemnify the contractors, and to take proper steps for enforcing their rights against the corporation. In this case, however, the contractors had themselves sued the corporation by counter-claim. Held (following Meldrum v. Scorer, 56 L. T. Rep. 471), that there were such special circumstances in this case as to allow the contractors to sue in their own name, and that therefore they were justified in suing the corporation as they had done. Fourthly, the contractors had admitted that at the time when the action was brought, which was previous to the bankers' liquidation, there was due to them £35,000 which might have been recovered from the corporation by the company.
The corporation claimed to set off this amount. Held, that, inasmuch as this was a debt not due to the contractors which could therefore in ordinary circumstances not be set off against them, yet, following the principle of Clark v. Cort (1 Cr. & Ph. 154), as in this case the contractors were entitled to sue in their own name, set-off was available. And that, as the right of set-off in equity of a surety rested on exoneration by his principal, the case of Bechervaise v. Lewis (26 L. T. Rep. 848) was an authority as to what assets in the bankers' liquidation were available for this purpose.
[The Alcoy and Gandia Railway and Harbour Company Limited v. Greenhill. Ch. Div.: Stirling, J. Nov. 3, 4, 5, 6, and Feb. 27. Counsel: Warmington, Q.C. and Mulligan ; Haldane, Q.C. and R. J. Parker; Hastings, Q.C., Swinfen Eady, Q.C., and Macnaghten. Solici tors: Ashurst, Morris, Crisp, and Co.; Batten, Profitt, and Scott;
Slaughter and May.]
-Separate Actions to restrain alleged Infringement of their Rights-
[Heimbs v. Newcastle Co-operative Society. Ch. Div.: Stirling, J. Feb. 25.-Counsel : R. J. Parker; Hastings, Q.C. and Ingle Joyce. So icitors : R. Smith and Sons, agents for S. G. Ward, Newcastle-on-Tyne ; King, Wigg, and Co., agents for Watson and Dendy, Newcastle-on-Tyne.]