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CONSOLIDATION OF THE STATUTE LAW.
A new series of resolutions were moved in the House touching the consolidation of the statute law. Mr. L. King, after recapitulating the proceedings, the cost, and the abortive labours of several successive commissions, appointed to investigate the subject, insisted on the necessity of preparing immediately an authentic and expargated list of the laws now in force, from which the perplexing mass of obsolete, expired, and repealed acts were duly obliterated. He quoted the authority of Lord Lyndhurst for the statement, that, of 16,500 laws still remaining on the Statute Book, no less than 14,000 were defunct, actually or practically; and declared that if the task was consigned to experienced literary hands, a complete and accurate digest of the statutes still in force could be prepared in the course of a few months for a slight expense, and comprised in a book of moderate compass. The Attorney - General remarked upon the magnitude of the task to be accomplished before an accurate digest of the statute law could be prepared. The work, he intimated, was now under investigation by commissioners, whose labours, however, were too recently commenced to afford any practical result which could be used at present. Under these circumstances, he deprecated any interference with the cautions of the commission, from which much good was anticipated. The legal members of the House agreed in the necessity for a consolidation of the law, but did not expect much practical good from the adoption of Mr. King's resolutions, which were, nevertheless, carried by a majority of the House.
FEES IN COUNTY COURTS.
Lord Brougham (June 18) made, in the House of Lords, a statement condemnatory of the excessive fees charged to litigants in the county courts, and complained that the salaries of the judges of these courts should be charged upon the suitors instead of being paid out of the general revenue, as is the case with the judges of the superior courts. The fees levied in the county courts amount to £270,000 a year, while in the superior courts, where the causes tried are more important, and the suitors belong to a class better able to pay, the annual amount of fees is restricted by statute to £50,000. The per centage of fees in the county courts is 17 per cent. on the amount sued for, and not less than 31 per cent. on the money obtained and paid into court on the proceedings. He cited several instances; in one case, where the amount sued for was £13 or £14, the honest charges, as contradistinguished from the taxes, amounted to £2 16s., and the taxes to No. 14 (VOL. II.)
£4 18s. 6d. In another, where the amount sued for was £14 3s. 6d., the taxes were £7 5s. 9d. The last case he mentioned was £5 sued for under the optional clause, and in this case the taxes were £8 being 160 per cent. on the sum sued for. Finally, the learned judge objected to the manner in which judges of the county courts are paid. They are told that they have a right to £1,200 a year, and no less, but that there is an additional sum of £300, which they might or might not be paid at the discretion of the Treasury. According to this system, there are judges who receive £1,350, another class £1,400, and the third class £1,500. Lord Portman said it was prejudicial to the independance of the judges to make the amount of their salary dependant on the will or caprice of the Treasury. The proper course would be to see that the office is fully paid, and then to select the best man to fill it. It must be admitted that the tax on suitors in the county conrts is excessive, and that the varfety in the salaries paid to the judges is not defensible on principle. It is to be regretted that the subject was allowed to drop. The whole matter is said to be under the consideration of the Government, who have received a report from the commissioners appointed to inquire into the matter.
After the 30th newspapers and publications, intended to be posted, must be "folded in such manner that the whole of the stamp denoting the said duty shall be exposed to view, and be distinctly visible on the outside thereof. " Periodical publications are to be posted within fifteen days after being published. Newspapers may be registered at the General Post Office, to entitle the same to the privilege of transmission abroad, under treaty with foreign powers.
UNITED LAW CLERKS' SOCIETY.
THE numerous members of the United Law Clerks' Society met at the Freemason's Tavern, on the 13th of June, to commemorate their twenty-third annual festival. They were presided over on the occasion by the Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Turner, supported by the Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Knight Bruce, Sir W. P. Wood, and many of the leading attorneys in London. The annual report, which was read by the secretary, noticed a steady increase of members, the subscriptions last year amounting to £1,200, and the investments on account of the society's capital had increased nearly £2,000, there being now standing to the credit of the society £18,168 198. 2d. The claims on the superannuation
fund are increasing, there being now seven, requiring a yearly expenditure of £289 4s. Since the last festival ten of the members had died and the families of each had received £50, and five members had each received the sum of £25 on account of the loss of their wives. The chairman, after congratulating the members on the result shown by the report, thought it was the best and most conclusive proof that the society was founded upon a firm, well-considered and well-weighed principal. "We are not," said he, dealing with hospitals, or schools, or other eleemosynary institutions, each of which has its own merits; but we are to look, on the present occasion, at the peculiar merit of this institution—that it is founded by those and for those who are willing to help themselves, and also willing to extend their aids to others. Upon such principal an institution instantly becomes deserving of the greatest encouragement, and have claims upon the public in general, for they tend most essentially to promote the good conduct of their members good-will and feeling of man towards man." He then spoke of the advantages the bench and bar derived from having honest, well-conducted, affectionate clerks. It is the clerk who, in the middle of the painful duties of the judge, ministers to his comforts; and as to the solicitor, "who does not know," said he "how much of his important business is necessarily entrusted to the clerk, and that what is required to be restrained on such occasions is the eagerness of the clerk to discharge his duty in the absence of the principal. I observe also," added the chairman, "in this report the foundation of a library. We are living in an age of improvements, when every man must cultivate, to the best, those talents with which Providence has endowed him. If ever the time existed when it was necessary for the clerks of solicitors to cultivate their legal knowledge it is the present; for it is impossible for any man not to see that in the changes which are now going on, duties which have heretofore fallen upon the higher branches of the profession must necessarily devolve upon the solicitors, and in their absence must devolve upon the clerk." Finally he urged the importance of increasing the investments.
Mr. Roundell Palmer, M. P., Q. C., in proposing the next toast, "The Lord Chancellor and the other patrons of the society,"-observed that he thought it a most becoming thing that those on whom it had pleased God to confer fortune and prosperity in their common profession should be amongst the most forward to give the sanction of their influence, and the aid of their contributions, to the excellent objects of this society; and the meetings of the society must afford to all a peculiar pleasure, because they must
bring home to all the common duties and interests which unite all, from the highest to the lowest, in one common profession. The union existing between the members of all grades of the profession, was touchingly illustrated by the Scriptures, "We are all members one of another: the head may not say to the hand, I have no need of thee," and even those members who, in popular estimation, may be held less honourable, were in truth among the most honourable, because among the most necessary to all. It was a peculiarly gratifying fact that the patrons of this society, the Lord Chancellor, Lord Lyndhurst, and Lord Truro, were men who had attained to the highest eminence in the profession from no accident of fortune, but of humble origin, had risen by honest industry, integrity, and by that ability which God gives to all in all grades, although not to all alike. The example of Lord Truro was peculiarly remarkable, because he was originally a clerk to a solicitor, as the youngest member of this society might be→ afterwards a barrister, and then Lord Chancellor. He was a man who, in the struggle from the lowest to the highest grade, was tried with peculiar and with extraordinary difficulties, but who bore those difficulties from the first to the last with unflinching courage and fortitude, who overcame them all, and who, when he had attained to the highest position, showed that the cheerfulness, the composure and amiability of his disposition had not been ruffled in the least degree by the hardness of the struggle which he had undergone. His was an example which might well be set before the younger members of this society, because his career proved that not only was the road open to all to the highest position, but that there were no difficulties which could prevent a man who possessed energy, honesty, ability and courage from attaining the highest distinction.
The following toasts were proposed by Lord Justice Knight Bruce and Vice Chancellor Wood, in whose opinion, if Russia could boast of a Coke a Somers, or a Hale, we should not be at this time at war with Russia. Sir John Patteson then proposed the "Bench, the Bar, and the Profession."
Mr. Murray returned thanks on behalf of the Profession generally.
Mr. Shebbeare proposed the healths of the "Honorary Stewards," which was responded to by the Master Turner, who said that, from his experience of the clerks, it was impossible for any individuals to conduct themselves more properly than they had done in the transaction of the business which they had to conduct before him.
The healths of the "Trustees," and the "Ladies" having been duly honoured, the Chairman retired at about half-past eleven.
SOLICITORS AND ARTICLED CLERKS
In the recent case of Dufaur v. Sigel (4 De Gex, Macn. and Gord. 520) the Court of Appeal in Chancery has given a judgment which concerns all solicitors and their articled clerks, inasmuch as it is there laid down that the solicitor is bound to see that the articles of the clerk are duly enrolled. The case arose on a claim filed by a solicitor as equitable mortgagee of certain property in respect of the premium payable by the defendant on the latter being articled to him. The statement in the judgment of the L. J. Bruce will present an accurate view of the facts and decision:
"The dispute originated and exists between an attorney and solicitor and a gentleman who is or was his articled clerk. The defendant choosing, or having had chosen for him the legal profession, was articled to Mr. Puddicombe, with whom he appears to have remained a year or two. From some unexplained cause Mr. Puddicombe and he parted, and I collect that the defendant went to India, whence he returned in 1848, or early in 1849. On his return from India he made or renewed an acquaintance with the plaintiff; and appearing then to have thought of resuming his profession, he placed himself in the plaintiff's office as clerk, and as I suppose gratuitously. After he had remained there some time, the articles in question were executed, by which the defendant became the articled clerk of the plaintiff for five years from September, 1849 (wher the defendant was in his 23rd year), in consideration of a premium of £150. By the articles this premium of £150. is mentioned as having been received, and the defendant is expressed to be released from it in the usual form. It was not, however, paid. But the articles were accompanied by a memorandum, not under seal, promising to pay the amount, and also by a document, the subject of the present suit, -viz., an agreement to charge by way of equitable mortgage certain property of the defendant with the £150. This was in September, 1849. The service appears to have continued for some months, not however with satisfaction to the plaintiff, for it is to be inferred from the evidence that the defendant's habits were irregular and idle. A letter of remonstrance, which is in evidence, strengthens this view. At last, in 1850, the defendant quitted the office, and his employment was never resumed. His departure was final, and the separation seems to have been equally agreeable to the plaintiff and himself. But the £150 remained unpaid. The service, such as it was, I repeat, was to be taken as having commenced in September, 1849, and continued to some time in 1850. The plaintiff having still thought it right, though the service was discontinued, to
demand the premium, which it was inconvenient or not agreeable to the defendant to pay, brought an action for it, and the action was met by three pleas : -1st, never indebted,' true or untrue; 2ndly, 'payment,' utterly untrue; 3rdly, a release,' namely, the deed which had, against the truth of the case, acknowledged the money to have been paid. The plaintiff was advised, and perhaps cor-rectly advised, that it was vain to pursue the action under such circumstances, and accordingly suffered a non. pros. to be entered, and thereupon he filed the present claim, for the purpose of making available the equitable mortgage which I have mentioned. It was met by a defence upon affidavits, charging the plaintiff with gross neglect of his duty to the defendant, habitual drunkenness, immorality, profligacy, and incapacity, in terms so gross and to such an extent, that it is imposible in my judgment not to impute to this testimony the most censurable exaggeration, to use the lightest term. This led to other affidavits on the part of the plaintiff, and much evidence of more or less relevancy is thus imported into this unhappy suit.
"Fortunately there is a fact which, in one view of the case, is sufficient, according to my judgment, to dispose of it; namely, that the attorney and solicitor did not make or cause to be made the requisite affidavit for enabling the articles to be enrolled, and accordingly they were not enrolled. Now, the act of the 6th & 7th of the Queen provides," that whenever any person shall, after the passing of this act, be bound by contract in writing to serve as a clerk to any attorney or solicitor as aforesaid, the attorney or solicitor to whom such person shall be so bound as aforessid shall, within six months after the date of every such contract, make and duly swear, or cause or procure to be made and duly sworn, an affidavit or affidavits of such attorney or solicitor having been duly admitted, and also of the actual execution of every such contract by him the said attorney or solicitor and by the person so to be bound to serve him as a clerk as aforesaid, and in every such affidavit shall be specified the names of every such attorney or solicitor and of every person so bound and their places of abode respectively, together with the day on which such contract was actually executed; and every such affidavit shall be filed within six months next after the execution of the said contract with and by the officer appointed or to be appointed for that purpose, as hereinafter mentioned, who shall thereupon enrol and register the said contract, and shall make and sign a memorandum' of the day of filing such aff. davit upon such affidavit and also upon the said contract.' The act also provides (s. 9),- That in case such affidavit be not filed within such six months,