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“My great desire is to encourage the attendance of professional men in the courts of this circuit, for I am convinced that their assistance greatly conduces to the proper administration of justice in any court, whatever its rank, in which that assistance is rendered. I have therefore given the subject-matter of this application my most careful consideration. To give professional men pre-audience is cer, tainly an obvious mode of encouraging their attendance, and I should be very ready to do so were it not that considerations of greater weight make it in my opinion incumbent on me to prefer the convenience of the numerous suitors who are brought here, as the place where they can obtain redress for wrongs, or resist unjust claims, rather than the apparent interests of gentlemen who come here in a professional capacity. To give pre-audience to the latter would, in numberless cases, inflict a serious hardship upon poor persons who cannot afford professional assistance, and very many of whom would in that case be detained from their means of livelihood, while the cases of the more wealthy suitors receive the consideration of the court. I should add, that my experience in courts, where the convenience of practitioners is apparently more regarded than the regular order of business, bas for many years satisfied me that the practitioners themselves would in those courts be more benefited than they appear to be aware of, by cases being taken in their regular order. I am satisfied that priority being given to cases in which professional men are engaged would, in practice, involve difficulties and inconveniences, both to themselves and the suitors generally, which can readily be avoided by the obvious course of taking the cases in the order in which they are numbered. Every person who has had business in the crown courts at the assizes, or at the quarter sessions, or who has had rules pending in the superior courts, is painfully aware of the disadvantages incident to uncertainty, compared with the certainty of which a cause list supplies the means.”

There is much good feeling and sense of justice in these remarks; but we cannot quite agree that it is a necessary consequence of precedence being given to professional men that the public or the poor should suffer injury. The obvious mode would be to frame two cause lists,- No. 1 to contain all those which the clerk had notice given him twelve hours before the opening of the court, that professional men were engaged in. No. 2 would contain all the rest. If it were known as a general rule that No. 2 would not begin until No. 1 were finished, where would be the inconvenience to the public? The lists ought to be posted outside the door of the court. We cannot but think this arrangement would meet all difficulties. A practitioner in , one of the Welsh courts says,

The profession complain bitterly at the refusal of the judge to make a special cause-list of those cases in which professional men are retained. No difficulty could occur, for the minutes of the court

are all prepared in regular series before the setting of the court, and all that has to be done is for the clerk to turn to the number of the case called on, and fill in the blanks. The relief to the court from having two separate lists would be considerable.”

Some such arrangement will, we think, be not improbably made in several districts.

We turn now to the far more important question of suing for divided debts. The 63rd section says, --

“ That it shall not be lawful for any plaintiff to divide any cause of action for the purpose of bringing two or more suits in any of the said courts; but any plaintiff

, having cause of action for more than 201. for which a plaint might be entered under this act if not more than 201., may abandon the excess, and thereupon the plaintiff shall, on proving his case, recover to an amount not exceeding 201., and the judgment of the court upon such plaint shall be in full discharge of all demands in respect of such cause of action, and entry of his judgment shall be made accordingly."

Mr. Palmer, the Judge of the Bristol Court, holds that

“ As every order for and delivery of goods formed a separate cause of action, a trader might divide his demand into as many parts as there were causes of action ; and, consequently, that if a party owed a trader 1001. or any larger sum, for twenty or any other number of orders, neither of which exceeded 201., he might bring as many actions in this court as there were separate orders or separate causes of action, each under 201., however large the aggregate might be."

But in a subsequent case he added, that “ where the whole debt did not exceed 201. a plaintiff would certainly be prevented from proceeding in more than one action, and that if he brought two actions or more, the court would, upon application, compel the plaintiff to consolidate them, and pay the costs of the application ; for that, as the plaintiff might have comprised his several causes of action, not in the whole exceeding 201., in the same suit in this court, it would be oppressive to sue out two or more summonses at the same time."

It is probable that the legislature contemplated nothing of the sort. The judgment of Mr. Palmer rests entirely on the use of the words cause of action.” Had it been said that no causes of action (in the plural), or no “ demands” (as in the margin), should be divided, then there could have been no doubt on the subject. Each single purchase bowever, unless there be a special or implied agreement to the contrary, is an integral cause of action; and the clause as it stands certainly does say no more than that such integral cause of action shall not be divided : separate causes of action consequently may be divided. And there are separate causes of action wherever a

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man purchases of a shoemaker a pair of boots to-day and a pair of shoes to-morrow. A case precisely in point occurred in 1831', where A. became indebted to B. in a sum not exceeding forty shillings for the carriage of a parcel of goods; and in a month afterwards incurred another debt to B. not exceeding forty shillings for the carriage of a second parcel ; A. brought two actions in the County Court for the respective debts. In this case Tenterden, C. J. held

“ I am of opinion that this case does not come within the rule of law which prohibits the splitting of a cause of action into several portions, for the purpose of commencing suits for each in an inferior court; to be so the cause of action must be one and entire. But, in this case, the two items of 11. 4s. each, are perfectly distinct debts, the one having no connection with the other; when the defendant incurred the debt stated in the first item, the plaintiff might have sued him for it in the County Court, and his having incurred another and distinct debt with the plaintiff afterwards should not, I think, have the effect of depriving the plaintiff of his remedy in the County Court for the first debt. And if he may still have that remedy for the first debt, he has it of course for the second also.” This is a perfectly intelligible rule.

Wherever the debts which it is sought to dissever were separately incurred, they may be made the subject of separate plaints; and the wording of the statute must prevail against its probable intention. Where they are not, but form on the contrary items in the same agreement, or parts only of one contract, they are then one and the same cause of action.

Mr. Moylan, the judge of the Westminster Court, has endeavoured to give a narrower construction to the act, and is reported to have held :

“ That when the division of a whole debt is ex parte and arbitrary, the plaintiff should not be permitted to bring his case, by reducing it, within the limited jurisdiction of these County Courts. But if the reduction be the result of stipulation, or even of an implied agreement, it has then failed, and cannot be considered a splitting within the meaning of the 63d section of the act. This principle will, I think, prove the safest guide in considering the point, on which difference of opinion exists. In illustration of this view, I will take a supposed case or two to which the principle will be found to apply. A job-master agrees to supply a carriage and horses for what is called the London season, at the rate of one guinea per day. In this case he should not be permitted to make an arbitrary rest at the end of every nineteenth day, and sue in this court as for a substan

Reg. y. Herefordshire, Sheriff, 1 B. & Ad. 672.


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tive debt of nineteen guineas. This, in my opinion, would be a contravention of the statute.”

This is a very good illustration of the case of one continuing agreement, which certainly forms but one cause of action. But we entertain great doubt whether what follows is equally sound :

“ Also in the case of a shoemaker or tailor, where any stipulation is made as to cash payments, an implied understanding, founded on the general custom in Westminster, would be that the tradesman's bill was payable at Christmas. The bill was sent in at Christmas, and although it may contain twenty different items of the value of 51. each each item having been delivered separately in the course of the year,) I never could consider such a bill as fairly divisible into five, any more than into twenty separate causes of action; and I should certainly hold it to be beyond the jurisdiction of this court.

The only ground on which such a case could be brought within the operation of section 63 is, that of the whole of the items having been included in one bill. But this simply amounts to one demand. Mr. Moylan would hardly deny that a tradesman might whenever he chose (in spite of any custom to the contrary) sue for any amount of goods supplied to any customer at any time before Christmas arrived." If so each article sold and delivered at one time forms a cause of action, and that alone is subject to the prohibition of being divided. A series of articles sold and separately delivered are all the world over “ perfectly distinct debts ;” and, says Chief Justice Tenterden, does “ not come within the rule of law which prohibits the splitting of a cause of action into several portions for the purpose of commencing suits for each in an inferior court, for to be so the cause of action must be one and entire.Again, where, as in the subsequent case of

v. Nash (see County Courts Chronicle, p. 37), an account had been stated, after a bill, including several separate items, had been sent in, it is clear that the distinct debts were merged into one cause of action. But that is a totally different case to the common one of goods sold and delivered at different times, where no account has been stated. The mere delivery of one bill, containing several items, would not, we think, be deemed sufficient to consolidate them, without some agreement to do so, express or implied. Where there are distinct purchases, there are distinct contracts. The case of lots sold at an auction, for example; Roots v. Dormer, 4 B. & Ad. 77.

Another case which also supports the rule we have ventured to suggest is that of Baldey v. Parker, 2 B. & Cr. 37. There

A. went to the shop of B. & Co., linendrapers, and contracted for the purchase of various articles, each of which was under the value of 101., but the whole amounted to 701. A separate price for each article was agreed upon; some A. marked with a pencil, others were measured in his presence, and others he assisted to cut from larger bulks. He then desired that an account of the whole might be sent to his house, and went away. A bill of parcels was accordingly sent, together with the goods, when A. refused to accept them. The question was whether this was one contract under the 17th section of the statute of frauds : it was held that it was; that it appeared at first to have been a contract for goods of less value than 101.; but in the course of the dealing, it grew to a contract for a much larger amount; and the case seems to have turned entirely on the dealing having taken place at one time, thus forming one transaction. For Bayley, J., said, " It has been asked what interval of time must elapse between the purchase of different articles, in order to make the contract separate; and the case has been put of a purchaser leaving a shop after making one purchase, and returning after an interval of five or ten minutes and making another. If the return to the shop were soon enough to warrant a supposition that the whole was intended to be one transaction, I should hold it one entire contract within the meaning of the statute.” Thus, when the return to the shop is not soon enough to admit of such a supposition, the purchase made each time will be not one but two entire contracts; nor is there any decision to the contrary in the books. Mr. Palmer cites the common case of rent due at different periods as falling (very obviously) within the pale of the same rule. He says,

“ It had also been held by Baron M'Cleland, at the Armagh Spring Assizes, that where two processes had been brought even at the same sessions, each for 71. the one for half a year's rent due in May, and the other for another half-year's rent due out of the same holding, at November following, the plaintiff was entitled to a decree in each case, and the learned baron affirmed both on appeal. So at the Lifford Summer Assizes Baron Pennefather decided that where A. lent B. a sum of money, and about four months after lent him another sum of money, A. might sue for each sum in separate actions, even after both the sums were due. Thus it was quite clear that in this case the plaintiff is entitled to split his bill or account, although amounting to upwards of 601., into separate causes of action, not exceeding 201., and bring separate actions in this court for each part."

It has been asserted, with very little acquaintance with the

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