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We extract the secretary's graphie statement of the general apathy, the indifference, and the total want of professional union which was manifested throughout his tour of observation. says
"The profession, I presume it is admitted, could organise itself if it chose; the simple fact, then, is that the profession has yet to be convinced that it needs organization.
the Chancellorship of Lord Eldon, it was proposed | promote them.
We have no doubt that a large proportion of the members of the Incorporated Law Society have joined it, not for the purpose of advancing their professional interests, as attorneys and solicitors, or with any view to the agitation of measures for the improvement of their status, but because the known respectability of the society reflects some credit on its members, and because its extensive library of reference, its collection of all the parliamentary publications and proceedings, its various courses of lectures, and its other advantages as a place of daily resort for the members, and of study for their articled clerks, render it almost indispensable to every practitioner resident in the metropolis.
After all that the most sanguine can propose, the attorneys, however united in their several associations, have not the means or power of combined action to any extent resembling that of the bar. Recollect their social meetings in the Halls of their Inns of Court and at the Bar Mess on their several Circuits, with upwards of a hundred benchers to protect their interests, with the natural leaning of the bench in their favour,-their numerous representatives in Parliament; and last not least, their influence with the press, the editors of which as their leading writers are mostly members of the bar.
Great efforts have been made, year after year for nearly ten years by the "Metropolitan and Provincial Law Associations," to induce the attorneys both in town and country to associate in one general body, but hitherto without effect. It appears, indeed, that the association is rather less in number than it was after the first year's exertions. That association not content with their annual reports and the circulars which they frequently issue, have from time to time authorised their able and zealous secretary to make a circuit in the Long Vacation, through a large part of England for the purpose of diffusing a knowledge of the just interests of the profession, and the necessity of joining the association in order to support and
Probably, this is not true of those who are attending this meeting; or why are they here? Possibly, they may even doubt whether it is true of the bulk of their professional brethren. Let me mention one or two facts out of my personal experience upon the subject.
"It has been part of my duty for several years, in the course of each long vacation, to go into the country for the purpose of discussing this subject at meetings of the profession summoned for the pur
"When I was first preparing for these journeys, I used to write to our local subscribers, and say, in effect, If you will get up a meeting of the profession in your locality; and invite me to attend, I will come down, and we will try and get some new members.'
"But I very soon found that if I limited myself to such a communication as that, I should never leave London; for the almost universal reply was,
The members of the profession here are so apathetic that they do not care to get up a meeting, and will not invite you.' So then I changed my mode of address, and said, 'Dear, Sir, I am coming to your town on such a day; will you be so kind as to oblige the committee by calling a meeting of the That I have found to sueprofession to meet me?'
ceed much better; but even so, when I have planned to visit a dozen towns, I think myself fortunate if meetings are called in two-thirds of that number. When no meeting is called, I still go to the town, and personally wait upon all the leading members of the profession; and when I have succeeded in explaining that I am not an itinerant canvasser for a Life Insurance Company- which it is very frequently taken for granted I am-I usually receive a ready promise that the papers I leave shall be carefully read; frequently, however, accompanied by the intimation that, for some reason or another, it is not probable that I shall be afterwards requested to add to my list of members. Sometimes the gentleman I call on is old, and thinking of retiring from the profession; sometimes he is young, and cannot yet afford a subscription. Sometimes societies are of no use whatever-all humbug; sometimes they are of great use, certainly, and all ought to join, and as soon as everybody else has done so, he will too. Sometimes a consultation is necessary with my senior partner, Mr. Jorkins. The most common answer of all, however, is undoubtedly some expression of the following idea: You ask me to pay you a guinea; show me that at the end of the year I shall not be a guinea the poorer, and I will do so.' Sometimes, however, I find gentlemen who, though they have not taken the trouble to find out the society, yet join it as soon as it is thus brought, as it were, into their offices.
"When, however, a meeting is called, there are still several dangers to get over. Sometimes no one attends; sometimes those who attend listen to what I say, and reply, that they will think over the mat
Proposed Decimal Coinage.
ter; sometimes a few, and sometimes a good many, at once become members; and when one does, others generally do so also. But sometimes the meeting is of opinion that the subject is much too important to be lightly passed over-that they must have, not only a regular connexion with the London committee, but, in addition, a local committee, or a local society. When that is the case, I know no good will come of the meeting. My experience is, that all that is done at all is done at the meeting, or while I am in the town. After I have left, it is the old tale:-What is everybody's business is nobody's business. The local society is not formed, and the committee does not meet.
"But again, the difficulty is not only to gain members, but to keep them; and the same causes that make it difficult to induce them to subscribe, make it easy for them to drop their subscription, if a personal interest in the association is not in some way kept up.
"It being, then, clear that the majority of practising attorneys and solicitors do not consider it a necessary thing to join any society, the question arises, are they right? Are there sound reasons why every man in the ranks of the profession should also inscribe his name as a member of some society? Are there any objects to obtain or to support which attorneys and solicitors may legitimately band themselves together, without any injury, or, perhaps, with positive benefit to the public?
"The time has gone by when any class of Englishmen could band themselves openly together for the purpose of opposing the public good. They may have objects in view that are really injurious, but they must not declare them, on pain of certain defeat. The public is too powerful, and too watchful, to be beaten in open warfare. If, therefore, a professional society openly declares its principles, its objects, and its mode of operation, we may rest assured that no amount of success it can obtain will be permanently injurious to the public; and this is more and more sure to be the case in proportion as its proceedings are kept before the public, and its influence is extended through the ranks of its members. On the other hand, the time has certainly not passed, perhaps we may think that it never will be, when even men of cultivated intelligence may privately pursue a course of conduct at once highly successful in advancing their worldly interests, and highly injurious both to all those immediately affected by it, and to the character of any class or profession to which they may belong. Applying these general facts to the legal profession, we may say, that they may, with great advantage both to themselves and the public, combine together to secure two classes of objects-the first of which may be called defensive, and the second progressive.
"They should defend themselves from dangers arising from within their own body, and from attacks directed against it from without; they should inflict both professional and social punishment upon any member of the profession proved guilty of malpractice; and they should continue to resist and repel all injurious attacks upon the profession from without; or the attempts to encroach upon the legitimate province of the profession by any of the various tribes of semi-professional tradesmen who hang upon the edges of the profession like parasitical zoophytes.
"Nor should they be contented with npholding and maintaining the actual rights and character of the profession; they should bring their common experience to bear upon the noble object of raising the
entire status of the body to which they belong; improving and rendering uniform throughout the country professional usage; giving a courteous and liberal tone to professional intercourse; and both as a means to these ends, and for its own sake, raising the standard of professional education.”
PROPOSED DECIMAL COINAGE.
A PAMPHLET has been written by Mr. John Clayton, an able solicitor,* containing observations on the proposed decimal coinage; and as the subject is clearly and practically explained, we deem it proper
to submit to our readers so much of the publication as will enable them to form an opinion of the modus operandi of the project. Mr. Clayton thinks that the return of peace will soon draw the public attention to matters of a domestic character, and amongst the rest to this important proposal of "decimal coinage." By way of illustrating the improvement which would be effected in our arithmetical calculations, the following case is stated :-
"Suppose it to be desired, then, to ascertain the value of 456 quarters of wheat, at £3 15s. 6d. per quarter, we may make the calculation by compound multiplication, thus:—
"The first calculation involves forty-five figures, the second forty-eight, and the last has but thirtythree, and in that point of view alone, therefore, the last has the preference. But it may be asked, What is meant by the figures .775, and how are they produced? The answer is, that fifteen shillings and sixpence has been found to be 775 thousandth parts of a pound, and is represented, when annexed to pounds in vulgar fractions, thus; £3, and in decimals £3.775.
"If we kept our accounts in pounds and farthings, instead of pounds, shillings, pence, and farthings, and our pound were divided into 1000 parts or farthings, instead of 960 as at present, £3.775 would be at once within the comprehension of every one. It would represent three pounds and 775 farthings, and we should find at the end of the third sum that the answer to our question was £1721 and 400 farthings, and so be saved the trouble of multiplying by twenty to ascertain the value in shillings of the decimal .400.
"So that besides saving all the trouble and chance of mistake attending the turning pence into shillings and shillings into pounds, which is involved in the first two sums, there would be an actual saving in figures over the first sum of sixteen, and over the second of nineteen. We should have nothing to do but to multiply the sum by the number of quarters and there is the answer at once-£1721 and 400 farthings."
"The public would thus be taught practically the value in mils of our present coinage, which would be much more effectual as a means of initiating them in the new system than lecturing and so on. This once accomplished, a day might be appointed for the change, and it seems to me that it would be carried out without much difficulty. The proposed figures would enable every one to see that justice was done him, and would save him from any difficulty in turning shillings, pence, and farthings into mils. No new
coins would in the first instance be necessary, excepting a good supply of large penny pieces, marked 5; there would be no double columns in the cash-book, and no confusion about florins, cents, and mils.
"It would be necessary, by legislative enactment, to provide for cases of Dr. and Cr., and of contract for prices not reducible into the new coin, and for our penny taxation. As between Dr. and Cr., and cases of contract, I venture to suggest as the fair thing that the account should be worked out in our present
The writer then proceeds to describe the practice coin, and the sum total turned into pounds and mils;
of other countries.
"The French divide their franc into 100 parts, or centimes. The Americans do the same; they keep
their accounts in dollars and cents. It is not of the least consequence, so far as the matter of calculation is concerned, whether the pound, the franc, or the dollar, or whatever may be the unit, is divided into ten, one hundred, or one thousand parts, so that it be divided into such a number of decimal parts, as that one of them shall be equal to the lowest coin in use, or nearly so. There are 960 farthings in a pound; now, if we divided this number by ten our lowest coin would consist of 96 farthings, or a florin, which would be too large, and if we divided by one hundred there would still be the same inconvenience; so that, is we wish to adopt the decimal system and keep our present pound as the unit, we must divide it into one thousand parts. On the other hand, if we wish to preserve the farthing, we must abolish the sovereign, and keep our accounts in a new gold coin of the value of £1 0s. 10d., which equals 1000 farthings.
"Some present inconvenience would attend whatever plan of change we may adopt; of the two above suggested the retention of the sovereign seems to be
the amount in mils, where the pence did not exceed threepence, being the number approximating to, and As for instance, just under the amount in pence. the balance owing between Dr, and Cr., on the day on which the Act comes into operation, being twopence, it should be treated as 8 mils, and not as 9; and where the amount in pence was above threepence and under sixpence, the mils should be the number approximating to and just above it. As, for example, for fourpence, the number of mils should be 17, and not 16.
"But some are of opinion, that whatever rules are laid down, the poor will suffer by the change, that tradesmen will be sure in giving change and in fixing prices, to take all the turns in their own favour. It is my belief that competition will set all these matters right. It must frequently happen as it is that in the subdivision of wholesale quantities or prices the retail tradesman has to deal with the fraction of a farthing, and if he waives it, contenting himself with the next lower farthing, it is probably because he knows that if he charged the next higher he would be undersold by some neighbouring shopkeeper."
We must refer to the pamphlet for further details and observations.
House of Lords as a Court of Appeal.
HOUSE OF LORDS AS A COURT
(From the Dundee Courier.)
WE have taken occasion frequently of late to call public attention to the attempts being made to overturn the existing system of appellate jurisdiction in the House of Lords, and to introduce innovations which would seriously injure that august tribunal. The movement originated some years ago in the Parliament House of Edinburgh. and has been chiefly promoted by agents and counsel practising before the Court of Session. It may not be agreeable to the practitioners before that court to find the decisions of the Scotch judges so frequently reversed on appeal, and the administrators of the law so often reminded that they have much of their own law still to learn. But instead of bringing the law of Scotland into harmony with the more liberal and comprehensive principles of jurisprudence which prevail in the Supreme Court, these legal functionaries would desire to infuse into the House of Lords more of the influence of the Court of Session. In this way the value of an appeal would be almost entirely lost; for if Scotch law is alone to rule the decisions of the Appellate Court, the form and expense of an appeal may as well be dispensed with. The plan proposed is to call up to the House of Lords one of the Scotch judges; and as it may reasonably be assumed that the best would be taken, Scotland, instead of being a gainer, would be a serious loser by the change. From the way in which the bench in Scotland is recruited --and the remark applies to both parties alike—the prevailing belief is that the surest road to promotion is through political partizanship. An Edinburgh lawyer who does not link himself to the dominant political faction-whatever his professional merits has but little chance of ever reaching the bench, or even of obtaining the humbler reward of a sheriffship. With the solitary exception of Sir Robert Peel, who, to his honour be it said, looked only to professional merit, both of the leading political parties are equally chargeable with confiding their patronage to their own political satellites. Hence the greater danger of introducing a system which would involve the constant presence of a Scotch judge in the court of ultimate resort.
The great objection to the elevation of a Scotch judge is the probability, or rather the certainty, that on him would devolve the disposal of all Scotch appeals; for it is not to be supposed that after a judge had been provided for the special purpose of supplying Scotch law, the other law lords would trouble themselves much about cases from Scotland, or apply their minds with that profound earnestness to the elucidation of the principles involved, which they now display. In this way, the chief object of bringing the causes under the influence of fresh and powerful minds would be frustrated; and for all practical purposes the Scotch judge might as well remain in Edinburgh, and dispose of the cases there. We gladly hail as a participator in these views our able contemporary the Advertiser; and make no apology for transferring to our columns the following portion of an article on this subject, which appeared in its impression of yesterday, and which conclusively shews the practical benefits of the present system of appeal. In reference to the recent case of Sprot v. the Caledonian Railway Company, reversed on appeal, it is said :
"Here was a case in which the first division of
the Court of Session unanimously declared, overturning the decision of the Lord Ordinary, that a party to a lawful agreement fairly and deliberately entered into, and as plain in its terms as any language could make it, was not bound by the terms of that agreement. Such, without the verbiage and circumlocution and metaphysical argument in which their judgments were couched, was the law laid down by all the learned judges of our much-lauded First Division. If that were Scotch law, it was not common sense; but the Lord Chancellor has now declared, that the law and common sense are not in this case discordant. It is well, then, that the House of Lords is to be retained as a Court of Appeal, since it does protect Scotch litigants against the over-refining and microscopic metaphysics of the Edinburgh paper lords, and administers the law much more with reference to its self-evident and universal principles. The Lord Chancellor seems to have considered it quite unnecessary to enter at any length into his reasons for reversing, or to offer any any deferential suggestions for putting aside the unanimous conclusion of their lordships of the First Division. Lord Brougham, who also heard the appeal argued, concurred in the reversal.
"Since writing the above, we observe another case, of which we also give a report, in which a decision of the Court of Session has been reversed by the House of Lords-namely, that of the donian and Dumbartonshire Railway Company v. the Helensburgh Harbour Trustees and Sir James Colquhoun.' This is just another instance of the House of Lords preferring a simple principle of law to a vast amount of Edinburgh Parliament-house hairsplitting. The judgment of the House of Lords, in this second case, may appear to be in the teeth of that to which we have just referred; but it is in reality quite consistent with it. In the first case, the agreement was within the powers of both parties, and the Court of Session refused to enforce it. In the second, it was not within the powers of both parties, and the Court of Session did enforce it. The law is quite clear that if both parties to an agreement be competent to enter into it, that agreement must be enforced; but it is just as clear that if either party is not competent, the agreement is null and void. This distinction consistently explains both reversals, and there can be no doubt that the House of Lords has fairly applied the law in both cases. In fact, if the Court of Sersion had simply given effect to the law as lately administered to our friends of the old police commission-that corporate funds can only be applied for corporate purposes—it never could have pronounced such a decision as that now reversed. It is the more remarkable as being, like Sprot's case, a unanimous decision of the First Division of the Court. It cannot be said that either case involved any peculiar principle of Scotch law. On the contrary, it will be admitted on all hands that the law of Scotland, in both cases, is equally the law of England. The great error of the Edinburgh judges seems to be that they seldom go back to first principles, but select some superficial feature of a case as the turning point of their decision, arguing from abstract intellectual propositions backward to the facts of the case, instead of taking the facts, and then finding a key in the law as it is to unlock any difficulty in dealing with them. These just reversals in no way compliment the wisdom of the Scottish Bench."
Law of Attorneys and Solicitors.-Law of Costs.-Public Record Repository.
LAW OF ATTORNEYS AND SOLICITORS.
LIEN ON DEED FOR COSTS OF PREPARATION.-PRODUCTION AS EVIDENCE.
MR. CLIPPERTON, a solicitor, was served with a subpoena, on behalf of the three defendants, to produce before the Examiner a deed, which had been prepared by him for Benjamin Norton, deceased; and it appeared that neither of the three defendants, on whose behalf the production was sought, was his representative. Mr. Clipperton attended, but refused to produce the deed, on the ground that he had a lien thereon for the costs of the preparation.
On a motion that he might be ordered, at his own expense, to produce the deed before the Examiner, and pay the costs, the Master of the Rolls said :-
"I am of opinion that Mr. Clipperton is bound to produce the deed. The lien of a solicitor entitles him to retain documents on which he has a lien against all the world; and I have always expressed an anxiety to preserve to solicitors the benefit of their lien; but there is a marked distinction between a production of documents for the purposes of evidence, and taking them out of a solicitor's possession.
"A solicitor's lien must be the same, whether he is the solicitor in the cause, or a mere witness; and in a cause, it is a matter of daily experience, notwithstanding a solicitor has a lien on the papers in the cause, to compel their production. Why should his rights in respect of his lien be different, when he is called upon as a witness to produce papers in his possession for the purposes of justice? The only question now is, whether the lien of a solicitor on a deed, can entitle him to prevent its being given in evidence in this cause. I think not.
"There is a marked difference between the rights of a mortgagee and that of a solicitor having a lien on papers. The mortgagee has no lien on the deeds, he has a charge on the land. At law, he is the owner of the estate, the deeds evidence his title to the property; and the Court, therefore, will never compel him to produce the evidence of his title, until his claims have been found. But a lien on deeds does not affect, and is not a charge upon the property; it affects more the parchment or paper which happens to be in his hands. Lord Lyndhurst thought that the lien on a document was no reason why it ought not to be produced for the purposes of justice at the trial; and Sir John Leach, in Brassington v. Brassington, 1 Sim. & Stu. 455, compelled a solicitor to produce documents on which he had a lien for the purposes of evidence. The case of the Oxford and Worcester Railway Company, 1 De. G. and S. 728, was very different; there the order was for the delivery of the papers, which is a different and distinct matter. It is obvious that no order for the delivery up of the document can be made, but it is the right of the parties, and essential to the due administration of justice, to have it in evidence; and I am of opinion that Mr. Clipperton is bound to produce this deed before the Examiner. I am, however, of opinion, that he is justified in saying he will not part with it.-No costs." Hope v. Liddell, 20 Beav. 438.
LAW OF COSTS.
OF PLAINTIFF IN ADMINISTRATION SUIT.
AN order was obtained upon the application of a simple contract debtor for the administration of an intestate's estate, which it appeared was greatly insolvent. The amount due from the administratrix was insufficient to pay the only specialty debt which had been proved, and the costs of the administratrix; and pending the proceedings, notice of this was given to the plaintiff, but he still persisted in prosecuting the order.
The Master of the Rolls held that the fund was to be applied first in paying the costs of the administratrix, then in paying the plaintiff's costs down to the notice, and the residue in payment of the spe cialty creditor. Sullivan v. Bevan, 20 Beav. 399.
OF CREDITOR'S PROCEEDINGS AT LAW AFTER NOTICE OF ADMINISTRATION DECREE
NOTICE was given to a creditor, who was proceeding at law for the recovery of his debt, of a decree made for the administration of the estate of the deceased. He, however, continued the proceedings in the action; and a motion was made for an injunction to restrain the action.
The Master of Rolls said-" I am of opinion that the creditor must pay the costs of this motion; but he may set them off against his costs of the action up to notice of the decree." Gardner v. Garrett, 20 Beav. 469.
PUBLIC RECORD REPOSITORY.
THE Seventeenth Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records has just been published. Such of our readers as are interested in searching ancient records for legal or quasi legal objects, such as descents or genealogies, are aware that no less than nine houses in Chancery Lane, opposite the Incorporated Law Society, have been taken possession of, in order to remove the papers and documents from the White Tower and the War Office Depôt, for the purpose of enlarging the space required in carrying
on the war.*
The report details the operations connected with this removal, and the delays and inconvenience We extract the following:thereby occasioned.
"The exigencies of the recent hostilities in which your Majesty has been involved, have recoiled severely upon this department. Not merely have the transactions arising out of these public necessities very materially impeded the progress of the works connected with the progress of the general repository, and the transfer of records thereto, but they have also much disturbed the performance of the ordinary duties of the establishment, these ordinary duties being increased in pressure by the extra duties cast upon the officers. Amongst others it may be noticed that the needful communications with the various public departments arising out of these transitory
*The war having ceased, it may be expected that the Record business will now proceed without interruption.