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Further Projected Law Reforms.-Bills of Exchange and Promissory Notes' Act. or less effectually be incorporated in the our brethren that are either immediately Statutes.
pressing, or will shortly become The report of the County Court Com-Other subjects of professional interest will missioners, which has been some time be- be noticed hereafter; and we invite the confore the Profession, does not exhaust the tinuance of those suggestions and commu. subject; but we are not aware, at present, nications which have so essentially aided whether such parts of the last report as ap- our past labours, and will render more pear to comprise the settled opinions of the effective our future exertions. Commissioners will be carried into early effect, or whether the proposed amendments will be deferred until the improvement
BILLS OF EXCHANGE AND PROwhich is contemplated can be rendered
MISSORY NOTES' ACT. complete and permanent. One great question has yet to be settled before these Small
SUGGESTED DOUBTS. Debt Courts can be considered as finally and By the 1st section of the 18 & 19 Vict. firmly established,-namely, whether the c. 69, actions on bills of exchange may be poor suitors are to continue paying fees for by writ of summons in the form contained the Judges' salaries, now in many instances in Schedule A., and indorsed as therein increased to 1,5001. a-year, and amounting mentioned. in the whole to about 80,0001. annually, The form in the Schedule leaves the exclusive of the salaries of the County Court number of days blank within which proclerks, treasurers, bailiffs, building fund, ceedings may be stayed on payment of &c. These new Small Debt Courts, in fact, principal and interest, and does not include involve an expense little short of that of the costs of the writ. But the Common the whole of the Superior Courts of Law Law Procedure Act, 1852, is incorporated and Equity.
in this Act by the 7th section, and the 8th We are watching with a strong feeling of section of the Procedure Act comprises the interest for the appearance of the Report of costs, and fixes four days as the time withthe Commissioners on the Inns of Court in which payment may be made. and Chancery, which we shall promptly Under the new Act, judgment cannot be bring to the notice of the Profession. The signed till the expiration of twelve days. large revenues of these ancient societies are, It appears to be doubtful whether the or might be applicable to the improvement plaintiff is entitled at the expiration of four of both branches of the Profession ; and we days to procure an affidavit of the service understand that the benchers or other rul- of the writ and prepare his judgment, in ing bodies both of the Inns of Court and order to avoid the loss of several days in Chancery have honourably signified their procuring an affidavit from the country. willingness to aid the Commissioners in the The 5th section of the Act entitles the objects of their inquiry.
holder of a bill to recover the expenses inThe Bill relating to Settled Estates, curred in noting the same for non-payment enabling the Court of Chancery to authorise " or otherwise.” But the form in the Schethe leasing, settling, or exchanging of lands, dule does not include the expense of poting which at present from defects in wills or or otherwise. settlements, can only be effected by private By the 6th section, the holder of a bill Bills in Parliament at great expense and may issue one writ against all the parties to delay, will, no doubt, be re-introduced. It such bill, and such writ shall be the comwas postponed last Session on account of an mencement of an action against the parties opposition raised to prevent the power of therein named respectively, and subsequent inclosing Hampstead Heath.
proceedings against them shall be as if seWe expect, also, that attempts will be parate writs of summons had been issued. made to amend the Limited Liability Act, In these cases, however, no special inand to pass the Bill for amending the Law dorsement is provided by the Act, and the of Partnership.
parties will not be apprised of the costs to The Consolidation of the Statutes will which each is respectively liable. again be pressed forward, and perhaps some We believe that the attorneys are deof the specimen or model Bills may be in- sirous of discharging their duty to their troduced for the purpose of “ventilation,” Clients and the Court in carrying the Act though their arrival at maturity cannot yet into practical effect; and we understand it be predicted.
has been suggested that these doubts might Such are some of the matters concerning be removed by a General Rule of Court
Metropolitan and Provincial Law Association. under the authority of the 223rd section of though he need hardly say that the one or two the Common Law Procedure Act, 1852, points to which the attention of the Legislature and thereby avoid the expense of numerous was directed had been watched very carefully motions to the Court as the points may se
by the Society. A good many Bills had been verally arise in practice.
brought in and withdrawn after going through a variety of stages.
There was one Bill in particular to which he METROPOLITAN AND PROVINCIAL would refer, because he knew that some memLAW ASSOCIATION.
bers felt a great interest in it, and regarded it as of considerable importance to the Profession.
He referred to a Bill which enabled parties to We have received a full report of the
sell or grant leases of settled estates, but in meetings of this Association, held at Bir- which no provision was made enabling the mingham on the 22nd and 23rd ult. In! money to be invested in Consols, nor for pubour last Number we gave a concise notice lic notice to be given of applications to the of the nature of the proceedings, and shall Court of Chancery under the Act. Attention now endeavour to find space for the several was called to this defect, and after some comspeeches which were made and the papers proceeding from the Society, were adopted,
munications and interviews, the suggestions read at these meetings. It will be conre. The Bill, however, ultimately did not pass; and nient to arrange the materials thus brought he only mentioned the circumstance as showing to the consideration of the Profession that in many instances the exertions of the under the several heads to which they re- Society were productive of good, without any late. We propose, therefore, Ist, to notice public testimony being borne to the fact. all that was said or written on the state and Then there was the Bill for the Registration prospects of the Profession of Attorneys and of Judgments, a measure of the greatest importSolicitors ; 2nd, to record the several re
ance in conveyancing matters generally, but marks or suggestions for the amendment or more especially of importance to the counties
of Durham and Lancaster, because of the neimprovement of the Law and the Practice cessity existing that in order to affect lands in of the Profession.
those counties, judgments must be registered Under the first head will be comprised with the officers of the Courts situated within 1. The speech of Mr. Holme Bower, of them, and applying indirectly also to YorkChancery Lane, the Chairman of the Asso- shire, owing to the recent decision that they ciation ;—2. The paper of Mr. Strickland must be registered with the registrars of the Cookson, of Lincoln's Inn, on the means of different ridings in that county; so that in all elevating and improving the Profession ;- double registry. This requirement was quite
cases London judgments would require a 3. The paper of Mr. Bulmer, of Leeds, on new, being introduced for the first time in the state of the Profession ;-and 4. The the Act brought forward last Session, and of paper of Mr. Shaen, the Secretary of the course would occupy the serious attention of Association, on the organization of the Pro- the Society. fession as it ought to be, and as it is. Another matter which had engaged much of
In reporting the address of the Chairman, their attention, as being of the utmost importit will be convenient to give the whole of ance to the whole of the Profession, was that his remarks, whether bearing on the imme
of costs. They would recollect that in 1852 a diate interests of the Profession, or the Par- by the Common Law Procedure Act, which
most important alteration was brought about liamentary measures of the last Session. changed altogether the course of proceeding We proceed then to give
for the recovery of debts at Common Law, and THE CHAIRMAN'S ADDRESS.
was followed in 1854 by another Act which
added to its powers very materially. Under Mr. Bower observed, that as the proceedings those Acts the Judges at Common Law have generally of the Society were stated in the re- fixed the scales of costs, having first called seport which issued in April, it had usually been veral solicitors to their assistance. He beregarded as the duty of whoever might preside lieved that against the scale of costs, as now to review what had passed in Parliament since applied, there was not much to be said, but he the previous meeting of the Association, and to regretted that as regarded another measure innarrate what had been done from time to time troduced, the Legislature did not adopt a siin the way of watching the progress of the milar course, and act upon the advice of those legal measures introduced. In the course of qualified to advise them. the past twelve months little had been done in He referred to the Bill passed during the the way of alterations in the law as regards last Session, giving an altogether new mode of proceedings in Equity, nor was there much to procedure upon bills of exchange. It was a note as regarded proceedings at Common Law, most slovenly Act. To prove this he need only
mention that under it a plaintiff is entitled to From the Birmingham Journal, sign judgment before the time for the defendAbridged from the News.
ant to appear has expired. Otber provisions
Metropolitan and Provincial Law Association.
5 of the Act made it necessary that some atten- I believed he might claim for the Metropolitan tion should be paid to it, as it pointed out a and Provincial Law Association that the most mode of procedure by which judgment may be important alterations which had taken place in obtained against defendants at the end of 12 Equity during the last few years were the redays, and execution then issue without the de- sult of suggestions which had been made by fendant having an opportunity of entering into them. In looking over some old papers one any discussion on the subject matter, unless he day lately, he happened to lay hold of one can persuade the Judge that he has a right 80 showing that in 1850 a Bill was brought in by to do. But there was another material omis- Lord Brougham, giving summary jurisdiction sion. There was no provision whatever for to the Masters Extraordinary of the High costs of proceedings except in case of judg. Court of Chancery; and now he had got the ment. There is a form given for the writ, and draft of a proposed Bill having the same oba form for an indorsement, showing that the ject in view, and prepared by the Metropolitan amount claimed is the amount of principal
, and Provincial Law Association; being, inwith interest upon the bill, and that upon the deed, one that was actually put into the hands payment of this, all proceedings are to be of Lord Brougham, the Lord Chancellor, and stayed. So that if a demand be made for the Master of the Roils, as long back as Febcosts, it would be a demand not authorised by ruary, 1850. If the two Acts were looked at the proceedings, and the Judge had no power it would be found that the great alterations to make any alteration by way of remedy. which bad taken place in giving more sumThis was an unfortunate instance of the way in mary jurisdiction to the Court of Chancery, in woich Acts of Parliament were now passed-- giving power to dispose of inatters by petition brought in by one, and altered by another, and also in chambers, were in point of fact the until they were full of ambiguities and contra- result of suggestions inade by the Committee dictions.
of the Association. This alone ought to disWith regard to proceedings in Equity, and pose of the assertion that the Prolession were the costs belonging to them, the Profession chary of chnges. was in a far different position. By the various With respect to the alterations made as re. Acts which had been passed, completely garded plaintiff and de'endant, he could not changing the mode of proceeding in nearly help feeling that they were really oppressive three-fourths of the matters which came be- upon the defendant. It was true the proceedfore the Courts, not only had they given new ings were more expeditious, but he thought as modes of procedure, but they had abolished regarded the defendant they were too expethe old ones, and inasmuch as there was a ditious, as they did not give him the opportariff for the old proceedings, this they had re- tunity of correcting any oversight. A writ is tained without furnishing a scale for the new served, and unless he appears to that writ and proceedings; or at least" no mention of these takes the necessary proceedings, a judgment at was to be found in any scale which had been once issues against him, for which he can obissued. When the Act passed, it was provided tain no redress. Now, every gentleman prethe Judges should have the power of doing so; sent knew that, not once or twice, but conbut unfortunately for the Profession, the Act tinually did it happen, that defendants were was in force without the tariff which should served with writs on which, from some accident have accompanied it having ever made its ap- or other, they were not able to act, and suffered pearance. The attention of the Judges had accordingly, though they might have a good been called to the subject by the Metropolitan defence to it. This hardship the last Act and Provincial Law Association, and also by carried still farther, as it provided that the writ the Incorporated Law Society, with whom they should be served and the party appear in 12 had gone hand in hand in this matter. The days-not saying whether the 12th day was result was, that inquiries having been made inclusive or exclusive, such was the muddle upon the subject, and a number of individuals made by the person who had drawo it up-and examined, the Lord Chancellor requested two that within this time the party must get leave of the Vice-Chancellors to take the matter up, to defend, either by bringing the money into and they along with two of the Masters, one at Court or convincing the Judge that he has a Equity and one of Common Law, had express- good defence. There is no power given to a ed themselves satisfied that an alteration must Judge to enlarge the time in the Act expressed, take place. This alteration was expected be- and therefore it was a hardship upon the defore last vacation, but unfortunately the Judges fendant, as it put him in a position which were going out of town, and the vacation took would in many cases work the greatest inplace without its being made. The Committee justice. of the Association, however hoped that in the In Equity the same mischief does not occur, course of the ensuing month the revised scale because, though the times fixed are much would be in operation. It had been impressed shorter than before, yet there is a discretion upon the Vice-Chancellors that the operation left with the Judges to allow farther time, and of the scale should be retrospective; but whe- the defendant is not placed in the position of ther this would be so or not, he (the Chairman) having a decree issued against him in mediately, could hardly say. There was an impression merely from his inability within the time to do abroad that attorneys were averse to any alter- what was necessary. During these discussions ation in the old modes of proceeding; but he before the Judges there had arisen a question
Metropolitan and Provincial Law Association. as to the mode in which attorneys should be town, acting for different interests, and not remunerated. It had been a favourite axiom always speaking their own sentiments when with some of the leading men of the Profession they did come into contact, to meet together that a man ought to be paid for his labour, and with one common object in view. It was cernot with reference to anything else—that the tainly cause for congratulation that meetings quantum of time occupied ought to be the test, like that should tend to bring the Profession and not the number of sheets of paper forming together, with no antagonistic views, and with the result, or the amount of the purchase the knowledge that there was no client behind money. Some thought it might be done by their backs urging them to any particular leaving it to the Masters to say what is the course ; and he hoped that the meetings of amount of labour, and to what extent a party that society which had been held, and which ought to be remunerated; while others sug- he trusted they would continue to hold, would gested that it should be left to the tariff of fees. have to a very great extent the effect of uniting He (the Chairman) would not venture to offer them more closely than they had been. any opinion on the subject, because he knew it was one that had engaged a vast deal of con- | ON THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE PROFESSION. sideration, and was a subject, moreover, too Mr. Cookson in his paper remarked, that lengthy for discussion on that occasion, and the Profession of an attorney and solicitor was more fitted for discussion privately. The main necessary to the public, and existed for the observation made regarding it was, that if at- public benefit. It was a Profession of great torneys were paid by lengths they would in- antiquity, and from an early period in the hiscrease the lengths for a purpose. He need tory of England it had been recognised as one scarcely say that he believed this statement to of our indispensable institutions. On the attorbe perfectly groundless. In Scotland the ney in a great degree depended not only the question was mooted years ago, and there a establishment of right and the successful replan was devised, embracing scales having resistance of wrong, but the maintenance of har, ference partly to length and partly to amount. mony and good feeling between friends and For conveyancing, the plan might to a certain neighbours, and the peace and happiness of extent succeed, even though they all knew that families. Under these circumstances, he asked the amount of labour in investigating a title why it was that the public held towards the did not depend on the amount of the purchase- Profession, as a body, the language of dismoney, for though undoubtedly the more the paragement and distrust? Why, even in an purchase-money the more they would find it enlightened assembly like the House of Comnecessary to look into the title, yet the labour mons, was the tone towards the Profession at and responsibility of investigating a title was large so unsatisfactory? Why were Messrs. pretty much the same in a small as a large title, Dodson and Fogg, or Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, seeing that all depended on the number of and Snap, looked upon as fair specimens of the questions that might have arisen upon it and whole? It was probable that many circumbeen dealt with from time to time.
stances had combined to produce this result. Speaking prospectively of the Profession, a The attorney who was steadily, conscienfew words as to the offices for which their tiously, and successfully labouring in the disbranch of it was not considered eligible, might charge of his onerous and important duties, not be out of place. It was the other branch winning and inviting the confidence of his of the Profession that now obtained nearly clients and the respect of his brethren, all appointments, not merely on the bench might pass through the whole of his profesand in the Superior Courts, but in other depart. sional life without ever appearing before the ments of the public service. If they turned public, except occasionally as the solicitor for back to times within the memory of gentle the sale of an estate. The public knew nothing men then present, when the number of barris. of him. But if an attorney had been guilty of ters was some two or three hundred, they would any misconduct, his delinquencies did not fail find that then few of the body had any ap- to come before the public. They were reported pointments except those strictly connected with in the public prints, and, being commented on the law. But of late years the practice had with just severity, the public mind was thereby crept in of providing in Acts of Parliament that led to contemplate the attorney in his most unthose who should fill the offices thereby created favourable aspect. were to be barristers of a certain number of Another cause of the unpopularity of the years standing, and thus solicitors had been Profession was, its supposed opposition to systematically excluded from appointments, legal reforms. This, he contended, was for which their habits and studies peculiarly unfounded, and unjust when applied to the fitted them. The reason of this was that such Profession at large, as no body of men had appointments were generally in the gift of the proved itself more zealous or disinterested Judges. Attorneys had it in their power to in advocating and pressing amendments in prevent this and other grievances, if they could the law. Its struggles for reforms in the secure unity amongst themselves ; but it un- practice of the Court of Chancery, in the fortunately happened that the very nature of Courts of Common Law, and in the Laws affecttheir Profession brought them frequently into ing the Transfer of Property, had been constant opposition with one another, making it hardly and untiring, as the records of the various Law possible for gentlemen residing in the same Societies abundantly testified.
Metropolitan and Provincial Law Association.
7 As a means of raising the character of from without; they should inflict both profesthe Profession, and increasing its usefulness, sional and social punishment upon any mem. the writer noticed the efforts of the Law So-ber of the Profession proved guilty of mal. cieties, which had already conferred great practice, and they should continue to resist advantages. Prior to the establishment of and repel all injurious attacks upon the Prothe Incorporated Law Society, there was no fession from without. Nor should they be examination worthy of the name of appli- contented with upholding and maintaining the cants for admission on the roll of attor- actual rights and character of the Profession, neys. Since its establishment, and by the ex- but they should bring their common experiertions of the Profession, a system of exami- ence to bear upon the noble object of raising nation had been introduced, by which the the entire status of the body; improving and attainments of candidates for admission had rendering uniform throughout the country probeen ascertained. The examination embraced fessional usage; giving a courteous and liberal five different branches of the law, viz., Common tone to professional intercourse, and both as a Law, Equity and Conveyancing, Bankrupt means to these ends, and for its own sake, Law, and Criminal Law. That in the Common raising the standard of professional education. Law was conducted by one of the Masters of The adoption of such a system, he contended, the Common Law Courts, and the others by would be productive of important results ; they members of the Profession, annually appointed would have attorneys and solicitors placed by the Judges. The beneficial effects of these upon every law commission, and the heads of examinations were enlarged upon at some the Profession would become the regular adlength, and the importance of fixing a higher visers of the Legislature upon all questions of standard of general education was strongly law reform. He believed that a change for insisted upon as the best means of raising the the better in this respect was gradually but character of the Profession, and removing the surely taking place; and the reasons why the unfavourable impression that at present pre- change was not yet complete and satisfactory vailed.
were first, that until recently they had the cha
racter of being hostile to all changes in law, Mr. Bulmer, of Leeds, in his paper, noticed whether improvements or not; and secondly, that the Legal Profession was divided into two that they were an unorganised body, and had classes :-advocates who had no immediate no acknowledged organ in which to store up connection with their clients, and who number their experience, and by means of which they about one-fourth of the whole number; and might express their opinion. The former obattorneys and solicitors. To the former class jection the writer repudiated, and pointed out every office of distinction and emolument was a remedy for the latter evil in the support of given, and they were at the same time exempt such an institution as the Metropolitan and from responsibility, whether arising from error Provincial Law Association. of judgment or ignorance; while the latter class, though excluded from all offices of dis- A discussion ensued on these three papers tinction and emolument, was responsible to as to the best mode of extending the usefultheir clients. This division of legal practi- ness of the Association, the general opinion tioners be regarded as a great injustice to expressed being that this could only be secured the attorney and solicitor, being calculated to by members exerting their personal influence, deter men of talent and ability from entering each in his own locality, and that the mere its ranks, while advantage was taken of the circulation of printed appeals was of no use division by men of no talent, but possessed of whatever. It was thought, however, that if family influence, who entered as barristers the papers read at the meeting were printed merely for the purpose of securing an appoint- for circulation, their important character would ment confined to barristers of so many years' excite an interest in the Profession generally, standing, which produced the anomaly so often and lead to a large accession of members. As witnessed of persons sitting to administer laws another means of extending the Society's influof which they were entirely ignorant. The ence, Mr. Ryland suggested that in each town writer advocated the abolition of the distinc- the members should meet together for the purtion in class between barristers and attorneys, pose of discussing the minutes of the London and the throwing open of all offices to the Committee; and Mr. Sudlow of Manchester menwhole class.
tioned that in the northern district the mem
bers formed themselves into a Committee, and Mr. W. Shaen read a paper “On the organ- were in the habit of sending up a deputation isation of the Profession, as it ought to be, and to the London meetings when important quesas it is.” The writer pointed out at great tions were to be discussed, communicating the Jength the advantage which would arise not result to subscribers in the district on their only to themselves but to the public generally, return. The Committee canvassed for mem. if the Legal Profession were to combine to-bers and received subscriptions, one-fourth of gether to secure two classes of objects, the the latter being retained for the expense of first of which might be called defensive, and the local management and deputations, and the second progressive. They should defend them- other three-fourths remitted to the general selves from dangers arising from within their Committee in London. This organization, it own body, and from attacks directed against it was thought, might be extended to the midland