Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

for any sum under 1001., unless upon the evening, and he could assure him, that special affidavit made before a judge, it was his desire to meet the wishes of the stating peculiar circumstances on which people of Wales in this respect, as far as the judge should have a discretionary he could consistently with tħe principle of power. This would in itself greatly di- the alteration. It was hardly necessary minish the number of arrests. His reason for him to say that the granting of comfor fixing the sum at 1001. was, that no missions of Oyer and Terminer and Gaol man would be likely to leave the country Delivery was the prerogative of the Crown, to get rid of the obligation to pay such a and that the Crown could grant such comsum, and yet it was necessary to fix a missions to be held at any time or place, limit somewhere. It was well known that and could extend their jurisdiction over peculiar species of personal property, such places as it might deem proper. such as property in the funds-was not This matter, therefore, of the extent of liable to be taken in execution, and per. circuits was a matter which he thought sons in debt with such property might go would be much better left for decision by off to another country and live there, re- his Majesty by the advice of his Privy ceiving the dividends, secure from their Council, than be brought for discussion creditors. He had fixed the sum at the in that House; and the more particularly amount stated, because so extending it so, as the House could act on the subject would greatly check the number of arrests, only by legislating; and any measure while it would not be too violent a de- they might introduce for fixing the time, parture from the present state of the place, or extent of a circuit, must be the law; for though many persons might subject of an Act of Parliament, which think it desirable that the law of arrest could be altered only by another Act. In for debt should be wholly abolished, he the Privy Council, any regulations that did not think that the time was yet arrived might be made by the Crown, if they were when it could be done with safety. It found inconvenient,or required amendment, would, in no very long time, be seen how could be rectified in a more summary and this limitation of the law worked, and he speedy manner. He was aware, as had been had no doubt that the change would be stated by an hon. friend near him, that in received with satisfaction by the country. the first Report of the Commissioners on In making changes such as his Bill pro- this subject, they recommended a division posed, much must be done at first as a of counties, in the arrangement respecting matter of compromise; and if we could the circuits. To such an alteration he not get all the good we wished at once, we could not consent. He would not divide should endeavour to get as much as was any county, English or Welsh; but whether within our immediate reach. Many might each county could have a separate

assizethink he had not gone far enough in some town was a matter which must be left for points, but he had endeavoured to achieve consideration. It would be necessary in as much as he could. With respect to some cases to join counties in one assize, the Court of Great Sessions of Wales, for otherwise the business of some would other opportunities would occur for going be so small, that it would not hold out into the subject more in detail. He would sufficient inducement to men of eminence now confine himself to stating, that it was at the bar to attend them; and in fact it intended to abolish the jurisdiction of that might be difficult to get a sufficient bar, court, and assimilate the practice of the unless a union of more counties than one Principality to that of England. The law was included in the same assize. But in was the same in the two countries—the such union the convenience of each county difference lay in the mode of administra- would be studied as much as possible in tion. As the Court of Great Sessions the selection of the place where the assize would be abolished, it would be necessary was to be held. The city of Chester to send two judges on an additional cir- would be a great object in making the cuit. On this subject, of making a change new arrangements; and it would be a in the Welsh circuits, it was his wish to inatter for consideration, whether much of do every thing which would make it as the judicial business of the county of agreeable as possible to the inhabitants of Lancaster, bordering on that city, and that part of the country. He had heard which was now transacted 50 miles off, what had fallen from an hon, friend near might not with much greater convenience him on this subject in the early part of to the parties be despatched at Chester. In cases of union of more counties than | country were those called the Tribunaux one in an assize, it would be necessary de Première Instance, in which the numthat there should be only one sheriff; but ber of judges varied from three to eight, in this there could be no practical incon- and one of them called the Juge d' Invenience, for there would be a sub-sheriff struction drew up, organized, as it were, the for each county, by whom the usual busi- case on which the other judges decided. ness of the office would be transacted From the Tribunaux de Première Instance without interference. The plan might be a cause might be carried before one of the

in the case of Cambridge and Huntingdon, ty-six in the Departments, besides that at where one sheriff acted for both. The Paris. Above the Cours Royales was the Bill would also embrace regulations by Cour de Cassation, which, in fact, was a which a jury of either county might try Court of Error, appointed to review all the causes originating in the other, and this proceedings, and observe that all the subwould be found a great convenience, and ordinate courts administered justice actend to the more perfect administration of cording to the strict forms of law. This justice; for such was the difficulty of Court had no less than forty-five judges, getting a sufficient number of jurors to called Conseillers ; one chief-president, act in some counties, that causes were left and three-vice presidents, making in all for trial to a very few, who possibly might, forty-nine judges, besides a Procureur in some instances, be biassed by local in- General, six Avocats Generaux, à Greffier, terests or feelings. It was also intended and four clerks, all of whom were apthat the gaols in the counties should be pointed, and paid by the Government. considered in law as situate in each; and The Cour Royale of Paris consisted of clauses would also be found regulating fifty-four judges, one chief president, and the mode in which the expense of Court-five vice-presidents, making in all sixty house and other expenditure connected judges. In this Court also, there were with the holding of an assize, would be ap- attached Procureurs, Avocats, Greffiers, portioned between the counties joined, and other officers as well as to the Court according to circumstances. This was the of Cassation. Each of the Cours Royales, general outline of the measure which he of which, as he had said, there were twenmeant to introduce, and though it might ty-six in the provinces, had from twenty to seem, at first glance, that it would require forty judges ; and taking the average at voluminous enactments, it would be found thirty, including that of Paris, the number that the whole did not comprise more than of judges would be no less than eight a few pages. In framing the measure, he hundred and ten; making, with those of had endeavoured to avoid any violent the Court of Cassation, no less a number change, or making any at all except in than eight hundred and fifty-nine judges those points where change was expe- paid by the Government. dient to carry the general principle of moreover, the Juges de Paix, one of whom the measure into operation. It might, was placed in every commune. These, perhaps, have accorded more with certain too, were exclusive of the Tribunaux de popular notions, that when he proposed a Première Instance. There were also two change in the system of judicial adminis- hundred and thirteen Tribunaux de Comtration, he should sweep away every thing merce, the judges of which were paid by at once. He had, however, limited him the nation, the secretaries or registrars self to those alterations which were neces- being the only officers paid by the Governsary, preserving, as much as possible, the ment. The hon. and learned Gentleman ancient forms. He had little hesitation next enumerated the items of expenses in saying, that the fifteen judges in this attendant on each court, and calculated country would have more arduous duties the aggregate at 11,265,465 francs, or to administer in causes of property than 582,5361. English, whereas, the expense all those who presided over the adminis- of administering justice in England was tration of justice in France. It would not only 150,0001. in the sum total. He did be uninstructive to put the House in pos- not mean to cast any reflection on the session of the means of comparing our French system, but he thought it would institutions with those of France in refer- be found, on examination, that the number ence to this important subject. The of causes, and the amount of property, decourts he would 'first mention of that cided by the English judges, were fully

There were,

equal to those decided by the French | ing so much of what he conceived an judges. It might, however, be supposed excellent institution, because some perthat the expense being so burthensome to sons turned it into ridicule. They were Government, the French suitors would on to be excused on account of their ignothat account pay less; but this was far rance of the vast benefits it contained. from being the case. The charge of a With respect to the present system of single cause in France, as he was informed administering justice in Wales, he would by M. Le Roi, an eminent French advocate, set aside his individual opinion for a moif it went through all its stages, would be, ment, and adduce that of very unsuspicious he need not enumerate the items,-1401., witnesses. That evidence was to be found which he would undertake to say, would in the report of the Chamber of Commerce cover the expenses of ten causes of a in Bristol, and the parties concerned had similar description in London and Middle- never thought of anticipating that their sex. One or two causes here might cost sentiments, so expressed, would have ever 2001. or 3001., but the average of costs been brought forward on an occasion like for each cause was not 1401. The cost the present. The report alluded to repreof French law proceedings would appear sented that those who might be creditors still greater if the parties there had to pay for debts contracted in Wales to the amount fees to the officers of the court, as they of 501. were obliged to have recourse to had in England; but in France they were Welsh courts alone for enforcing their paid out of the general taxes. He would claims, but that the uncertainty, the risk, further add, that the expense of a suit in and the difficulties attendant on such a the Tribunaux de Première Instance was mode of procedure, owing to the inefficient about 800 francs; to carry it through a operation, and defective constitution of Cour Royale, it would cost 1000 francs those courts, induced creditors very often more ; and if it went into the Cour de to relinquish their debts, as a less evil Cassation the additional expense would than seeking to recover them, which caused be 1700 francs, making in all 1401., which, very great loss and inconvenience to the considering the difference in the value of trading interests of the city of Bristol. money in the two countries, was, he con- The existing system of Welsh judicature sidered, a very large sum. From these he conceived to be erroneous and imperfacts he inferred, that the law costs in fect. It was a principle there, that every France at least equalled, if they were not man was supposed to be in court, which much greater than, those occasioned by not being generally the case, it was necesthe administration of justice in England. sary to apply to the Courts of Equity to The proceedings, moreover, were more stay proceedings. The judges had lately, prolix, and perhaps he might add, more however, required that fifteen days' notice unsatisfactory than our own, in conse- of action before the assizes should be given quence of law questions being mixed up to all persons against whom an action with the facts of the case, as they always was contemplated. But, up to that time, were in French courts of justice.

It was

cases were hurried on without giving any a great advantage, in his opinion, resulting adequate time for preparation, and consefrom the trial by jury in this country, that quently operated unjustly to the prejudice it determined the merits of a case by of the defendant. The Report of the Comcoming to a decision on the facts separate missioners had stated, that the expenses and distinctly from the law which might of Welsh causes in every stage considerarise out of them. He would take that ably exceeded those of causes in England. opportunity of saying, in vindication of This also was a grievance which he inthat part of the English system which had tended to remove, by his Bill, if the House been sometimes censured, because its would allow him to bring it in. The hon. working was not understood, that there and learned Gentleman concluded by never was a happier expedient to facilitate moving for leave to bring in a Bill for the administration of justice, than that of “ the more effectual Administration of trial by jury. The separation made by Justice in England and in the Principality that institution, in all cases, of the facts of Wales." from the law, give to the rules of our law Mr. O'Connell said, he was quite willing a greater certainty than was to be found to give the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. in those of any other country. He was Peel) credit for his intention to ameliorate happy to have that opportunity of say- our law, but he disclaimed having heard a single word which induced him to believe himself favourable to the introduction of that the present change would be in any such courts, with authority to decide cases respect an amendment. He supposed of small debt; but why, when the printhat the object kept in view, in every ciple was acknowledged, should they not change ought to be, to make law cheap, be extended to large debts as well? This expeditious, and certain ; but this measure advantage Wales had enjoyed hitherto; would leave every process as tardy, un- but it was about to be deprived of it by certain, and costly as before. Convenient the Bill in contemplation. They would it certainly would be, both to judges and henceforward be constrained to make apbarristers in great practice, whom it would plication in London before any step whatenable to recreate and refresh themselves; ever could be taken. An American captain but he was yet to learn that the benefits might owe a debt to an inhabitant, and resulting from this boasted reform would | before the writ could arrive from the meextend to the public. They would have tropolis would most probably pay his debt no additional day consumed in their ser- (according to the sea phrase) by the forevice, nor would the suitors find themselves topsail. They must now travel for justice, placed in a more advantageous position whether it be in a law case or an equity for obtaining justice or redress. The ar- case, for it was no longer to be extended rangement would give a resting-place to to them as heretofore at home. By the many learned gentlemen overburthened time about 400 Welsh cases tacked to with briefs; but it would diminish the num- the tail of the list in Chancery were disber of days devoted to the public service. posed of, he supposed successive generaThis was, he thought wrong: he would tions of those interested would have passed have no Terms at all : he would have the into the grave. The local tribunals were courts always sitting, for as injustice never also to be annihilated. The hon. and slept, so ought justice never to slumber. A learned Gentleman, in adverting to France, fifth judge, too, was to be added to those might have recollected that justice was who already presided in the Exchequer; there to be had at every man's door; and but for what purpose? Why, in order to in this respect the French enjoyed a suhelp them to do nothing. There was, periority over ourselves, since they travelled nevertheless, one part of the Bill which for justice for the first time when they he could not but approve of, that which themselves made an appeal to the Cour related to the prevention of arrests for Royale. What consolation was it to us sums under 1001. According to the present if they were charged exorbitantly for jusstate of the law, if the merest wretch chose tice ? Did their misfortunes alleviate our to swear a debt of 100,0001. against any own?. But the hon. and learned Gentleindividual, not a Member of either House man had forgotten that the expense he of Parliament, an arrest and imprisonment had described was for thirty-two millions of of the party designated would be the im- people, while the expense here was inmediate consequence. Not long ago, a curred for twelve. The hon. and learned woman in Dublin, who could neither read Gentleman had also omitted all mention nor write, had made oath to a debt amount of fees when he stated the expense of our ing to 60,0001., which she alleged to be courts. He had not enumerated all the due to her from a respectable gentleman, expenses attendant on the constitution of and her affidavit was acted on forthwith. our courts when he mentioned 150,0001. Special pleading also was a subject which as the sum total, which he could very he wished to see reformed in all its parts, easily make appear, if the late hour would as it only increased the expense of coming permit. In brief, he would for his own at the truth, and prevented the parties part consent to cashier half our army,

and from coming into the presence of the judge get rid of half our colonies, if by so doing until their resources were previously ex- we could accelerate and cheapen the hausted. They then often settled matters administration of justice. by arbitration, which they might have Sir J. Owen protested against the measure done in the outset but for this precious from a conviction that, by the abolition of system of special pleading. They ought local judicature, the costs of law would be likewise to give every county its local more than doubled to the inhabitants of court, and facilitate the administration of Wales. He was confident that Governjustice at every man's door. The Secretary ment would not so far disregard the feelfor the Home Department had expressed I ings of the people as to suffer this Bill to go into a committee before the Easter of Denbigh sent in a petition against this holydays.

Bill, although the potent family of the Mr. Wilbraham had no doubt but it Wynns had mustered all their influence would prove highly advantageous to that at the meeting in that town, for the purpart of the country to which he personally pose of opposing its being carried. As to belonged. He wished to thank the hon. the comparison of expense, made by the and learned Member for the bill.

hon. and learned Gentleman, between Mr. C. W. Wynn was of opinion, that France and England, that was nothing to the annihilation of the local judicature the purpose; for if the French chose to would confer an important benefit on the have expensive law, was that to justify us Principality; and he was led to form this in submitting to great inconvenience ? conclusion after an attentive consideration But even in making that comparison the of the subject, confirmed by his own indi- hon and learned Member had not been acvidual experience of the practice in these curate. He had omitted Scotland and courts themselves. There was, to a certain Ireland, and the local jurisdictions of degree, disadvantage in every change, but | many stipendiary magistrates. The Bill was here the good counterbalanced the evil. a benefit forced on the people of Wales He hoped, however, that the Bill would not against their inclinations. All the petitions be allowed to go into a committee before on the subject, except one,'were against the the assizes, in order to give time for ex- measure. He could not imagine what had amination of its merits.

made the Ministers interfere in the business, The Solicitor General, in reply to the for the whole population of the Principalhon. and learned Member for Clare, stated ity, except a few rich people, to whom it that it was a part of the measure in ques- was of no consequence where they got tion, so to apportion the business as to justice, were averse from it. The learned provide that the Court of Exchequer Solicitor General seemed to think that a should for the future do a fair and reason- judge in the neighbourhood was an evil, able share of the work of the country. It and he would probably think a judgment sounded well to propose that they should delivered at Moscow even better for the bring justice to every man's door, but in people of Wales than one delivered in practical operation it might not be so con- London. The learned Gentleman seemed venient. The local magistracy would be to have forgot that there were such things come mixed up with the interests of fami- as juries, and deriving all his notions from lies, and it was hardly possible to avoid the courts of equity, he seemed to suppose partiality when the same gentlemen were that every document concerning a cause sent again and again to administer justice might be sent up in a box by the coach amidst the same local associations. from Wales. But for the eulogium passed

Mr. O'Connell explained, that he had by the Attorney General on juries, he not desired that local tribunals should be should have been afraid that the next step composed of persons selected from their would have been to abolish them, but he respective neighbourhoods.

hoped the poor Welshmen would long be Mr. Jones defended the character of the allowed to preserve that part of their anWelsh judges, and observed, that several cient institutions. of the most distinguished ornaments of Mr. C. W. Wynn, in explanation, stated, the judicial bench had previously filled the that the Denbigh meeting was not unanioffice of Welsh judge. Whether England mous, and that the measure was opposed , would be content with having three addi- by the inhabitants in consequence of their tional judges when those at present exist- expectation that their interests would be ing were not all employed, he did not pre- injured should the assizes be occasionally tend to say, but it was certainly hard that removed. the interests of Wales should be made the Sir Christopher Cole said, he saw no ladder by which ambitious barristers were reason why Wales should have a separate to climb to such preferment as three addi- judicial system any more than Yorkshire. tional seats on the bench must necessarily He was glad that the Ministers had taken induce. It was admitted on all hands the matter in hand, and he hoped that that the Welsh were attached to their they would successfully carry it through. present institutions; and he could not Mr. Cutlar Fergusson said, he regretted bring forward a better proof of their that the Bill did not provide some remedy feelings, than the fact that the inhabitants for the inequality of business in the difVOL. XXIII.

D

« AnteriorContinuar »