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The Legal Observer,

AND

SOLICITORS' JOURNAL.

Still attorneyed at your service."-Shakespeare

SATURDAY, MAY 10, 1856.

PROGRESS OF LAW BILLS IN

PARLIAMENT.

Society for the Protection of Trade, in favou of the Lord Chancellor's County Court Amendment Bill, praying that instead of PARLIAMENT has adjourned for the diction, if both parties consented, in cases the optional clause giving the Court jurisWhitsuntide holidays, but will re-assemble where the amount exceeded 501., the plainon the 16th instant. According to the tiff should be at liberty to bring such cases modern objectionable course of continuing into the Court without the defendant's prethe Session to the middle of August, there vious consent,-leaving the defendant to yet remain nearly three months for the de- require that the case should be tried in the bate and consideration of the numerous County Courts. Bills in progress or intended to be brought forward. So far as the members of the Profession or their clients are concerned, it is incumbent vigilantly to watch the proposed alterations in the Law;-and we shall continue therefore from time to time to call attention to such of them as seem to be important.

It will be recollected that the usual protracted sittings of both Houses deprive the Profession of the services of many of the members who are engaged on the Circuits, which commence about the 10th July, so that if it should be the purpose, on either side of the House, to press forward an objectionable measure of Law Reform, the probability of success is greater when most of the lawyers have departed for the Assizes. There ought to be a time fixed for each Session, after which no Law Bills should be passed, unless of acknowledged urgency for the due administration of justice.

ject of the petition had received his anxious
The Lord Chancellor said, that the sub-
prepared by one of the Commissioners, Mr.
attention, and a very able paper had been
Pitt Taylor, who had framed a number of
clauses, which would be introduced on the
2nd reading, when he should move that the
pose.
Bill be committed pro forma for that pur-
We shall wait for these clauses with

some curiosity, if they are intended to give
jurisdiction to the County Courts beyond
the sum of 50l. Is it proposed that the
County Courts are to be "Courts of First
Instance," and the Superior Courts only
Courts of Appeal?

was discussed in the House of Lords on the The Mercantile Law Amendment Bill 2nd instant, in reference particularly to the repeal of the 17th clause of the Statute of Frauds, which requires contracts for the sale of goods above the value of 10l. to be The recent discussions in Parliament re- sioners that in Glasgow, Liverpool, Manin writing. It is stated by the Commislating to the principal Bills under consider-chester, and other places, contracts in writation, were in substance as follows::A petition was presented on the 2nd May tions of trade and commerce, which are safely ing are not required in the ordinary operaby Lord Brougham from the Yorkshire

This is the proposition of the Government, but the adjournment may extend to the 19th. No. 1,470.

VOL. LII.

2

porter of the Debate, and that the Superior This, we presume, is a mistake of the ReCourts were here intended.

C

22

Progress of Law Bills in Parliament.

and conveniently carried on to a great ex- several points of the Treaty of Peace.

tent without the supposed protection of written agreements.

When that subject has been exhausted, and
the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget
(at present appointed for the 19th inst.)
has passed through the ordeal of the House,
we may expect that prompt exertions will
be made to pass such Bills as are likely to.
gain credit with the public, and promote the
interests of the ministry.

Many of the merchants of London, however, object to the proposed alteration of the law; but it was explained, in the course of the debate, that a broker could not bind his principal except so far as he was authorised, and that the merchant might direct, in writing or otherwise, how far the autho- The Qualification of Justices of the Peace rity of his broker or agent, should extend. Bill is evidently a proper and judicious Lord Campbell concurred with the Lord measure. At present no one can be placed Chancellor in the expediency of repealing in the Commission who has not 100%. athe section in question, the cases on which year in land. A man with 5,000l. a-year had filled many volumes of reports. It will in the funds cannot be appointed. It is be recollected that exceptions have been in- proposed that 3007. a-year of personal protroduced in the construction of the 17th perty shall be a sufficient qualification. The section in cases where the contract has been Bill has been amended and is re-committed partly executed, or where part payment has for further consideration on the 21st inst. been made, and subtle distinctions have been The alteration proposed on the part of the raised to evade the provisions of the Statute. Attorneys and Solicitors will, we underLord Overstone and Lord Harrowby ad- stand, be adopted. dressed the House on this topic, and ultimately the report was received and the Bill now stands for 3rd reading.3

The County and Borough Police Bill occupied the House of Commons for several hours on the 2nd instant, various alterations were made, and its further consideration was postponed till the 9th instant.

The difficult subject of the Ecclesiastical Courts has received a further addition in the Bill just introduced by Sir Fitz Roy Kelly, an abridgement of which will be found in a subsequent page. There are now three Bills before the House :-the 1st by the Solicitor-General; the 2nd by Mr. Collier; and now 3rdly that of Sir F. Kelly. Mr. Mullings has also given notice of a Bill on the same fruitful subject. There are also rival Bills on Church Discipline and Matrimonial Causes.

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The Settled Estates Bill still lingers in the lower House, after having passed the upper; but we trust it will soon be taken up and expedited.

The complicated subject of Church Rates, we fear, can scarcely yet be satisfactorily settled; and connected with this measure is that of the proposed amendment in the formation of parishes.

The proposed appointment of a Public Prosecutor, with numerous assistant prosecutors, district agents, and official prosecuting attorneys, remains under the consideration of a Select Committee. We hope a full report will be made of the evidence and of the reasons, as well in opposition to, as in favour of the project.

The following are the stages at which the several Bills have arrived :

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BILLS FOR SECOND READING.

The next important branch of legislation is that of the Law of Partnership and of Joint-Stock Companies, including the "limited liability principle. These measures In the House of Lords the Bills are the make but slow progress, but it is ex- Divorce and Matrimonial Causes; Clergy pected they will be matured into Statutes Offences; Charitable Uses; Drainage of before the end of the Session. The Go- Land; and Winding-up Acts Amendvernment have had some difficulties to sur-ment.

mount. They were indeed several times In the House of Commons, the Bills in left in a minority (though on compara- this stage are: Leases and Sales of Settled tively minor questions), but obtained a very Estates; Law of Partnership (No. 2); satisfactory majority on the question of Judgments Execution; Procedure and Evicensure raised by the Protectionist party dence Amendment; Specialty and Simple regarding the surrender of Kars. There Contract Debts; Wills and Administrations may yet be prolonged discussions on the (Solicitor-General); Wills and Administrations (Sir F. Kelly); Ecclesiastical Courts (Mr. Collier); Koor Removal; Church

3

This questionable alteration will undergo Rates Abolition; Advowsons; Summary

further discussion.

Progress of Law Bills in Parliament.—Testamentary and Matrimonial Jurisdiction Bill. 23

Jurisdiction of Justices of Peace; London
Corporation; Medical Qualification and
Registration.

IN COMMITTEE, OR RE-COMMITTED.
In the House of Lords, the only Bill in
this stage of progress is the County Courts
Amendment Bill.

Judges of other Courts to sit with or in the absence of the Judge; s. 13.

Rank of Judge; s. 14.

Secretary, usher, and trainbearer; s. 15.
Salaries of Judge and other officers; s. 16.
Retiring pension; s. 17.

Judge may appoint persons to keep order in
Court; s. 18.

Power to supply vacancies in office of Judge
appointed under this Act; s. 19.
Seals of the Court; s. 20.
Establishment of testamentary office; s.

In the House of Commons are the following:-Oath of Abjuration; Church Rates; Amended Formation of Parishes; County and Borough Police; Qualification of Jus-21. tices of the Peace; Metropolis Local Management; Sleeping Statutes Repeal.

IN SELECT COMMITTEE.

Shipping Tolls, &c.; Medical Profession; Public Prosecutors; Tithe Commutation Rent Charge.

In the House of Lords, the Mercantile Law Amendment Bills for England and Scotland.

FOR THIRD READING.

In the House of Commons the Bills in this stage are the Reversionary Interests of Married Women, on which some observations and suggestions appeared last week, and Joint-Stock Companies.

NEGATIVEd.

24.

District office; s. 22.

Officers of the Court; s. 23.

Power to increase number of registrars; s.

Appointments to offices; s. 25.
Principal registrar; s. 26.

Qualification of future registrars; s. 27.
Officers to execute office in person; s. 28.
Advocates admitted to practise as barristers;

s. 29.

Admission of proctors as solicitors; s. 30. Admission of articled clerks to proctors as solicitors; s. 31.

Solicitors and attorneys; s. 32.

Laws in force concerning attorneys and solicitors extended to attorneys and solicitors of the Court; s. 33.

Exclusive right to transact common form business in the testamentary office; s. 34.

Effect of probate taken out by executor as

Marriage with Deceased Wife's Sister; to real estate; s. 35. Aggravated Assaults.

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Summons to executors, &c., to prove will of real estate. In default, grant to be made to applicant; s. 36.

Such grant not to prejudice any subsequent

one; s. 37.

Devisee of real estate devised by will may obtain probate of such will; s. 38.

Administration with will annexed of personal estate to have the same effect as to real estate as probate; s. 39.

Where a person dies, leaving an instrument affecting real estate, and another instrument be granted, but in no other case; s. 40. affecting personal estate, separate probate to

Unrestricted grant to be evidence that testator left no other will; s. 41.

Restricted grant to be evidence, as the case may be; s. 42.

Expense of probate to be borne by person applying for same; s. 43.

Probate to be evidence of contents of will as to real as well as to personal property; s. 44. No person to claim as heir, &c., without certificate of intestacy; s. 45.

Certificate of intestacy; s. 46.
Orders, &c., of the Court liable to appeal;

s. 47.

Probates, &c., to be obtained as in Prerogative Court; s. 48.

Affidavits to be made; s. 49.

Judge may appoint commissioners; s. 50.
Probates to be obtained in district offices;

Her Majesty empowered to appoint Judges. 51. of the Court; s. 12.

24

Testamentary and Matrimonial Jurisdiction Bill.

Reference of questions when necessary to Judge; s. 52.

Deposit of wills in country districts; s. 53. No probate or administration to be granted through district office, unless deceased had fixed place of abode in district; s. 54.

Affidavits conclusive; s. 55.

Option of applying to testamentary or trict office; s. 56.

Power to Lord Chancellor to arrange for temporary custody of wills, &c.; s. 92. Appointment to temporary offices; s. 93. Power to Judge to direct registrars to discharge the duties of principal registrar during Vacation, &c.; s. 94.

Power to Judge to remove any officer apdis-pointed under this Act engaging in other employment; s. 95.

Note and copy of will, &c., to be transmitted from district; s. 57.

Index to be made of wills and administrations, and sent to district offices; s. 58.

Form of probate and administration; s. 59. Official copy of will may be obtained; s. 60.

Executor or administrator within 12 months to file inventory of effects of deceased; s. 61. In case of neglect of executor or administrator to file inventory within such period, Court on application of any person interested, may order same to be filed, with costs; s. 62. Čaveats; s. 63.

Sureties in administration bonds; s. 64.
Bond; s. 65.

Penalty on bond; s. 66.

Power to Court to assign bond; s. 67.
Pending suits: Proviso; s. 68.

Power to Judge of Prerogative Court to deliver written judgments; s. 69.

Power as to appointment of administration; 8. 70.

Administration pendente lite; s. 71. Receiver of real estate pendente lite; s. 72. Remuneration to administrators pendente lite; s. 73.

After grant of administration, no person to have power to sue as an executor; s. 74.

Revocation or determination of temporary grants not to prejudice actions or suits; s. 75. Court to have like control over wills, &c., as the Prerogative Court; s. 76.

Court may remove from registry or cancel a forged will, or restore a will which has been tampered with; s. 77.

Order to produce any instrument purporting to be testamentary; practice thereon; 78.

Issue may be tried before the Court by jury; s. 79.

Examination of parties and witnesses before the Court: Production of deeds; s. 80. Issues may be tried at assize; s. 81. Attesting witnesses to will may be examined vivá voce: Proviso; s. 82.

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Proctors, solicitors, &c., appointed to any office under this Act to cease to be proctors, and be struck off the Rolls, as the case may be; s. 96.

Saving existing employments; s. 97. Registrars, &c., to have power to administer oaths; s. 98.

Forging or counterfeiting seal of Court or signature of officers: Penalty; s. 99. This Act not to affect the stamp duties on probates and administrations; s. 100.

The registrar to deliver copies of wills, &c., to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue;

s. 101.

Judge to prepare table of fees to be taken by officers of Court, with power to vary the same as he may think fit, and to publish same in Gazette: Trials, pleadings, practice and procedure in causes matrimonial; s. 102. No other fees to be taken; s. 103.

No officer to retain for his own use any fees, or accept gratuity: Penalty; s. 104. Prosecution of offenders; s. 105. Fees not to be paid in money but by stamps; s. 106.

So much of the Suitors in Chancery Relief Act as applies to the collection of fees by stamps incorporated, except that separate accounts be kept: Commissioners of Inland Revenue to retain expenses, &c., and pay residue into Bank of England, to an account "The New Court Fee Fund Account;" s. 107.

Fees to be paid to the same account; s. 108. Acts relating to stamps under Commissioners of Inland Revenue incorporated; s. 109. Power to Judge to provide offices, &c.; s. 110. Salaries of officers; s. 111.

Power to Judge to remove any officer becoming infirm or incapable, and to limit retiring allowance; s. s. 112.

Mode of compensating retiring officers, &c. Proviso; s. 113.

Compensation; s. 114.
Proctors; s. 115.

Compensation to proctors in partnership;

s. 116.

Compensation to Judge of Prerogative Court;

s. 117.

Persons appointed to offices not to receive compensation while holding such offices, &c.; s. 118.

Clause for protection of the interests of the Right Honourable Charles Viscount Canterbury; s. 119.

The registry of Prerogative Court of Canterbury to vest in registrar of Court; s. 120. Compensation to the Reverend R. Moore for building; s. 121.

How compensation to be paid; s. 122.

Registrars of the Court of Chancery.

Time of payment of salaries, &c.; s. 123. Power to Lord Chancellor to order surplus of New Court Fee Fund to be paid into the Exchequer: If fund insufficient to defray salaries, &c., Commissioners of the Treasury to provide for same; 124. Short title; s. 125. Limit of Act; s. 126. Schedules.

It will be observed that although the Bill is designed to abolish the Matrimonial as well as the Testamentary Jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Courts, as shown by the 4th and 6th sections, the details of the Bill relate only to the Testamentary Jurisdiction.

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additional registrar only, though an additional Court was established. We believe that it was at the time considered that one additional registrar only was required, it being thought that the Lord Chancellor and the Judges of the Court of Appeal would be rarely sitting at the same time in separate Courts. No additional clerk was appointed, but one of the four unattached clerks was attached to the new registrar, thus leaving three unattached.

these Acts of Parliament, whenever a vacancy Succession in the Registrars' Office.--Under occurs in the office of registrar or of clerk to the registrars, the vacancy is supplied by the registrar or clerk to the registrars next in seniority, if willing to accept the office, unless some substantial objection is made to such person, in which case the Lord Chancellor de

REGISTRARS OF THE COURT OF termines on the validity of the objection. This

CHANCERY.

right of succession is subject to certain provisions with respect to some of the registrars and clerks to the registrars made on transfer

when the equitable jurisdiction of that Court was transferred to the Court of Chancery, but it is unnecessary to state these provisions, as they are temporary only, and do not substantially affect the principle of succession established by the Acts.

THE Chancery Commissioners have devoted the larger part of their Report to the consider-ring some officers of the Court of Exchequer ation of the course pursued in drawing up the Orders of the Court. They state that these orders are in general drawn up in the office of the Registrars of the Court. There are now 11 Registrars and 14 Clerks to the Registrars, The consequence of the succession thus esamong whom the business of the office is dis-tablished in the registrars' office is that on each tributed.

The establishment of the office is regulated by the following Acts of Parliament:

1st. The 3 & 4 Wm. 4, c. 94 (1833), which abolished the office of registrar as it had previously existed, and created an establishment of six registrars and eight clerks. The office of registrar had become a sinecure, and its duties were performed by deputy, the officers actually performing the duties, being styled deputy registrars.

At this time there were three Courts of Chancery sitting; namely, the Court of the Lord Chancellor, the Court of the Master of the Rolls, and the Court of the Vice-Chancellor of England; so that there were two registrars for each Court. A clerk was attached to each of the registrars. The remaining two clerks not attached to any registrar were considered to be more especially under the superintendence of the senior registrar.

2nd. The 5 Vict. c. 5 (1841), which transferred to the Court of Chancery the equitable jurisdiction of the Court of Exchequer, and created two additional Vice-Chancellors.

The number of Courts sitting being thus increased to five, the Act created four more registrars and four additional clerks, and authorised the Lord Chancellor to appoint further additional clerks, which power was exercised by the appointment of two additional clerks. Thus the establishment consisted of 10 registrars and 14 clerks.

3rd The 14 & 15 Vict. c. 83 (1851), which added a Court of Appeal in Chancery.

vacancy a clerk is appointed, who rises gradually by seniority, and many years necessarily elapse before a clerk succeeds to the office of registrar. The average period of service as clerk is stated to be 20 years.

The principle of succession by seniority has always prevailed in the registrars' office. Before the passing of the Act of 1833, the clerks were appointed by the registrars (then deputy registrars) by articles of clerkship, and each clerk so appointed continued to serve under the same registrar or his successor, or under one of the other registrars to whom he might be assigned, until he himself succeeded by seniority to the office of registrar. The clerks, instead of being appointed by the registrars themselves, are now, under the authority of the abovementioned Acts of Parliament, appointed by the Lord Chancellor. Each person appointed must be a solicitor, or have served five years under articles of clerkship to a solicitor.

Insufficient office room.-The registrars and their clerks occupy a building in Chancery Lane, which was provided for the establishment when it was much smaller than at present. Few of the registrars have rooms to themselves, and the clerks all sit in one room, which is the common resort of the solicitors and their clerks having business in the office, and which is also occupied by two clerks of entries, and by the two bag-bearers attached to the registrars' office. The two junior registrars and the clerks attached to them have been unable to find room in the office, and chambers have been taken for them on the opposite side of Chancery

This Act authorised the appointment of one Lane.

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