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question whether the above signature was a proper signature of the rate books, the entries in the vestry books stated correctly what took place at the several meetings. The vestrymen who were in rotation to retire in May, 1839, and were not re-elected, were not summoned to any subsequent meeting
There was no notice on or near to the doors of the churches or chapels within the said parish, or any of them, that the purpose of any vestry meeting except that of the 12th of August was to make a rate.
With respect to the manner of making out the rate : the vestry clerk with all reasonable despatch proceeded to make it out after the resolution passed at the vestry meeting of the 12th August. It was not completed by the 9th September. In making out the rate the resolution and acts of the vestry at the meetings of the 4th September and 9th September were acted upon by the vestry clerk. The rate was made out in four separate books, each book relating exclusively to the property in one of four divisions of the parish called respectively the North, South, East, and West divisions. The several books did not contain any express reference to each other. Each book had the following entry at the commencement of it.
“St. Pancras, Middlesex. An assessment for the relief of the poor of the parish of St. Pan. oras in the county of Middlesex, and for other purposes chargeable thereon according to law, made this 12th day of August, 1839, after the rate of 18. in the pound, by the vestrymen of the parish of St. Pancras in the county of Middlesex acting under and by virtue of the provisions of a statute made," &c. (59 G. 3, c. xxxix.); “which said rate and assessment was made and assessed at a meeting of the said vestrymen when seven or more and not less than nine of them were present, at St. Pancras vestry rooms, situate,” &c., "of which meeting notice was given according to law; and which said rate of 18. in the pound is to be collected forthwith."
*Each of the four books contained at the end the declaration, *697]
and signatures of the ten vestrymen, above mentioned. The rate was confirmed and allowed by two justices, and the confirmation and allowance entered in each of the four books, and notices thereof published as mentioned in the avowry. The minutes of the vestry meeting of 14th September were read, signed, and confirmed at the next vestry meeting, 21st September, 1839. It had been the usual practice in the parish for some years to make out the rate in four books as was done in this case. There was a separate collector of rates for each of the districts respectively comprised in the books. The form of rating in the books was according to stat. 6 & 7 W. 4, c. 96. It was agreed that the original rate books might be produced in Court and referred to on the argument, to avoid the necessity of a more particular description.(a) There was no written rating of the plaintiff except that which was contained in the said books.
The case then referred to a question which had arisen, whether the defendant had a right to insist on the validity of the election of restrymen in May, 1839; and it set forth facts on which the plaintiff con
(a) In the special verdict afterwards prepared, the contents of the books were more fully described.
tended that (by an order of WIGHTMAN, J., on application by the defendant for leave to amend, referring to an order of nisi prius of December 9th, 1840) the defendant was precluded from relying on that election as made according to law. The facts are not further stated, as the point was conceded by the defendant's counsel on the present argument. The Court was to be at liberty to draw inferences of *fact,
[*698 which, if the case were turned into a special verdict, might be embodied in such verdict. The question stated for the opinion of the Court was: “Whether the facts above stated sustain the avowry.” If the Court should be of that opinion, a verdict was to be entered for the defendant: if otherwise, the verdict for the plaintiff to stand.
The following clauses of the local act were referred to in the course of the argument.
Stat. 59 G. 3, c. xxxix. 8. 4, directs the first meeting of the vestrymen under this act, and that “they, or any seven or more of them so assembled, shall and may proceed to put this act into efecution; and in like manner the said vestrymen, or any seven or more of them, shall and may from time to time afterwards meet together and proceed in the execution of this act; and it shall be lawful for the vestrymen present at such first meeting, and at every subsequent meeting to be convened and held according to the provisions of this act, to adjourn themselves to ineet at such future time and at such place within the said parish, as they shall from time to time appoint, or according to such summons, as is hereinafter directed to be given; and of each meeting to be held by adjournment notice in writing or printed, with the name or dames of the vestry clerk or clerks for the time being thereto subjoined, shall be given to or left for each of the said vestrymen at his or their last or usual place of abode, three days previous to each intended meeting; and if it shall happen that any such meeting shall separate without making a regular adjournment, or if there shall not appear at any such intended meeting seven or more of such vestrymen to act, then and in each such case the vestry clerk or clerks shall, and he and they is and are hereby required to summon the vestrymen to meet at the place where the last meeting shall have been held or appointed to be held, within eight days next after the day on which such last meeting was held, or was intended to have been held as aforesaid, such summons to be by a written or printed notice as aforesaid, and to be delivered" at the usual place of abode, &c., three days before, &c.
Sect. 9 prescribes the qualification of vestrymen, and imposes a penalty for the offence of acting in the execution of the act without qualification; “Providod nevertheless, that all acts and proceedings of all and every person and persons acting as a vestryman or vestrymen in the execution of this act (though not duly qualified as aforesaid), previous to his and their ing convicted of su:n offence, or to the recovery of any such penalty as aforesaid, shall, notwithstanding such conviction or recovery, *be as valid and effectual as if such per- [*699 son or persons had been duly qualified according to the provisions of this act.”
Sect. 13 enacts: “That no act of the said vestrymen shall be or be deemed to be good or valid, unless the same shall be done at some meeting to be holden in pursuance of this act (save and except as may be herein excepted); and all the powers and authorities by this act granted to or vested in such vestrymen shall and may from time to time be exercisod by the major part of them present at any such meeting (the number of such vestrymen present at such meeting not being less than seven), and all the orders and directions of the major part of such vestrymen present at such meeting shall have the same force and effect as if the same were made or done by all such vestrymen for the time being (save and except as may be herein excepted).”
Sect. 69 enacts : “ That it shall and may be lawful to and for the said vestrymen, or any seven or more of them, and they are hereby required, from time to time and at all times after the passing of this act, as often as occasion shall require, to meet at such time and place as to them shall şoem proper, for the purpose of making such rate or rates as hereinafter mentioned, notice of such meeting and the purpose thereof having been first given on the Sunday immediately preceding such meeting,” &c.; "and at such meeting or meetings to make one or more such general rato or rates, assessment or assessments, as by tho several laws in force ond effect church wardens and overseers of the poor now are, or shall or may, or could or might be enabled or empowered to make, as they the said vestrymen, or any seven or more of them, shall judge or determine to be necessary in or towards the relief and maintenance of the poor of the said parish, and other the Beveral purposes," &c.; "and all such rates or assessments so to be made, when signed by the said vestrymen, or any seven or more of them, and allowed and confirmed,” &o. (by two justices in and for Middlesex), “and notice thereof given on the Sunday next after the same shall bave been so allowed and confirmed," &c., “shall and may be collected and received," &c. Sect. 97 is sufficiently noticed in p. 702, post. The case was argued in Hilary term, 1847.(a)
Peacock, for the plaintiff, contended that the avowry did not correspond with the facts proved, inasmuch as the rate was alleged to have *700]
been made on August 12th, *whereas the resolution of that day,
stated in the case, did not amount to the making of a rate; none was then signed; nor was there any signing till September 14th. It is not clear that the rate itself was signed at all, as is required by the local act, sect. 69. But, if the signing on September 14th was the making of the rate, the fact does not agree with the pleading: and the further objection arises, that no notice appears to have been given of a meeting on September 14th to make a rate. The vestrymen could not, on August 12th, make a rate, delegating to those who might meet on September 14th the duty of apportioning the assessment; this may
be inferred from Sellwood v. Mount, 1 Q. B. 726 (E. C. L. R. vol. 41): nor could the vestrymen meeting on that day be bound to adopt anything resolved by the vestry of August 12th without exercising their own judgment. It may be contended that the rate was made on either day or both, the business being done partly on each : and there might have been some grouud for this argument if the meeting of August 12th had been expressly adjourned to September 14th ; but the meeting on the latter day is by adjournment from September 9th, when the business related to compositions and relief from past assessments : and the meeting of September 14th is not properly connected by adjournment with any meeting of which the business, fixed by notice, was to make a rate. There is a confirmation in vestry on August 28th of the proceedings in vestry on the 12th ; but no confirmation of a rate made on September 14th. The rate, if made on the latter day, is antedated : and a parish*701]
ioner referring to the date given (August 12th) *would find an
entry of thirty-one persons present, nearly half of whom were absent on September 14th. (Other points were touched upon ;(6) but the
() judgment of the Court makes a further report of the argument unnecessary.)
Watson, contrà.—The rate was virtually made by the resolution of
(a) January 15th. Before Lord DENMAN, C. J., PATTESON, COLERIDGE, and W1Gutman, Js. There was a prior argument in Easter term (April 28th), 1846, by the same counsel, before Lord DENMAN, C. J., Williams and COLERIDGE, Js.: but the Court ordered the case to be re-argued.
(6) One of theso was, that the vestrymen who signed the rate, as alleged in the arowry, were dot a majority of those present on September 14th. It was answered that a majority did in fact sign, and that the statement of names in the avowry, under a videlicet, could not prejudice the defendant; on which point Watson cited Perreau v. Bevan, 5 B. & C. 284, 296 (E. C. L. R. vol. 11), judgment of HOLROYD, J., and Draper v. Garratt, 2 B. & C. 2 (E. C. L. R. vol. 9), there relied upon. As to the number who ought to sign, reference was made to sect. 69 of the local act, and sect. 28 of stat. 1 & 2 W. 4, c. 60, s. 28.
August 12th. Notice was given of a meeting on that day to make a rate; and the meeting was adjourned from time to time (not including the vestry of August 28th, which was a special one) till September 14th, on which day the rate books were signed by more than seven of the vestrymen present. This is the only way in which a rate can be made in large parishes. It cannot be completed within the one day for which notice is given. Sect. 69 must have a reasonable construction. The meeting there spoken of must be for the purpose of resolving upon a rate; the preparation of it for signature must be done afterwards within such time as a work of that kind may require. The case states that the vestry clerk proceeded to make out the rate with all reasonable despatch after the resolution of August 12th. If that resolution was not the making of a rate, it may fairly be considered that the meetings by adjournment, while the vestry clerk was employed upon the details, down to September 14th, when the rate was *signed, all constituted one meeting for the present purpose, and that the rate was, substantially, made on the day first named. Sect. 69 says that the rate, " when signed by the said vestrymen,” &c., shall be collected and received; but not that it must be signed at the meeting first spoken of. [\'IGHTMAN, J.-By what vestrymen is the rate made if the same do not attend on the first and the subsequent day?] The vestrymen attending need not be the same. - The said” in sect. 69 refers to the vestrymen generally, as mentioned in sect. 13. [COLERIDGE, J.-If different persons attend at a meeting subsequent to the first, can they dissent from the resolution, or are they merely ministerial ?] If they refuse to sign, the rate wants sanction; but the expense of preparing it will have been rightfully incurred. [Lord DENMAN, C. J.-As to the insufficiency of time, if more than one day is required, the difficulty may be obviated by proper adjournments.] It is suggested that notice was not given of the purpose for which the meeting of September 14th was held; but the notice given for the first meeting extended to every meeting held by adjournment from it. The special meeting of August 28th is unnecessarily introduced into the case, the confirmation there mentioned not being required by the local act. It is true that stat. 1 & 2 W. 4, c. 60, s. 28, requires the acts of one vestry to be confirmed by the next: but, by sect. 27, that enactment does not overrule the provisions of a local act. The objection that the rate, if made on September 14th, is misdated, would at most be only matter of form ; by sect. 97 of the local act, no rate to be made under it could " be vacated or quashed for want of form :" and, by stat. 17 G. 2, c. 38, s. 8, such a defect would not *invalidate a distress. The signature on September 14th, as it appears by the case, was a sufficient signing of the rate. (The argument on this and other points not determined by the judgment is omitted.)
Peacock, in reply.-If the meeting of September 14th was to be VOL. XIII.-53
[*703 deemed a mere continuation by adjournment of the meeting on the 12th August, the avowry should have been framed accordingly. And the minutes show several meetings, but only one of which the purpose is specified by notice. (Lord DENMAN, C. J.—Notice seems necessary only where the meeting separates without adjournment.] Notice of the purpose is a necessary preliminary to any meeting which is held for making a rate.
Cur. adv. vult. Lord DENMAN, C. J., in Hilary vacation (February 3d), 1847, delivered the judgment of the Court. After a short notice of the pleadings, his Lordship said :
Several questions were raised for the consideration of the Court: but the learned counsel were desired to confine their attention in the first instance to one point: namely, whether the avowry, supposing it to contain an allegation that a poor rate was lawfully made, be sufficiently sustained by proof.
Now on behalf of the defendant it was contended, either that such assessment was made at a meeting of the vestry holden on the 12th August, 1839, or on the 14th September following; or that the proceedings of the two meetings considered together amount to a valid assessment, it being admitted that the precise day on which they were holden, if
both or either be in other *respects sufficient, is not material. It *704]
certainly appears, both from the pleadings and the proof, that more than two meetings were in fact holden.
The first allegation is : that on the 12th August, 1839 (laid under a videlicet) a meeting of the vestrymen of the said parish was held in pursuance of the said act, for the purpose of making one general rate and assessment, and that, at such meeting, 66 a certain rate or assessment of one shilling in the pound was adjudged and determined to be necessary, and was then and there unanimously agreed upon and made.” Now, supposing this to amount to an allegation that a rate was in fact made, the statement in the case plainly shows that all which was done at the meeting was preparatory only, and that then no rate or assessment was in existence at all, and of course cannot be said to have been made.
It remains therefore to be considered whether, at a subsequent meeting held on the 14th September following, a valid rate was made, either by an independent act of that meeting, or by the joint effect of the two meetings of the 12th August and the 14th September. And, with a view to this point, it may be necessary to advert to the provisions of the said local act, as to the holding of the meetings of the vestrymen, generally, and specially for the purpose of making rates. By the 4th section the vestrymen (to the number of seven) may meet to execute the act, and may adjourn themselves to meet at such future time and place as they may appoint; and, if no adjournment be made, then follow certain provisions not observed in this case, and therefore not material to be noticed. The 69th section respects the making of rates : and, by