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(5.) EGYPT.–Foreign Bankrupt. International Courts incoinpetent to declare Bankrupicy of Foreigner on request of Foreigner of same Nationality. Court of Appeal, Alexandria, 19th April, 1876. Meunier v. Nivière.
Court considering that Art. 9 of “ Règlement " of Judicial Organisation, and Art. 5 of Civil Code, gave jurisdiction to the New Courts, both in civil and commercial cases, only over suits between natives and foreigners, and between foreigners of different nationalities; that the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs declared in its Report to the National Assembly, 7th May, 1874, that suits between French subjects, with the exception of real actions (Actions réelles immobilières), were retained under the exclusive jurisdiction of the French Consuls; that the right of the International Courts to declare Bankruptcy could only be exercised when mixed interests were proved, and that no such proof had been given in present case : Held that the French Consular Court alone had jurisdiction. (Journ. de Droit Int. Pr. 1876. p. 194.)
The following is the text of Art. 9 of the “Règlement," quoted above, as given in the “ Journal de Droit International Privé,” Nov.-Dec., 1875:
“Règlement d'Organisation Judiciaire pour les Procès Mixtes en Egypte. Ch. I, s. 2. Compétence-Art. 9.
“ Ces Tribunaux connaîtront seuls de toutes les contestations en matière civile et commerciale, entre indigènes et étrangers et entre étrangers de nationalité différente en dehors du statut personnel. Ils connaîtront aussi de toutes les actions réelles immobilières entre toutes personnes, même appartenant à la même nationalité."
Reviews of New Books.
A Digest of the Law of Evidence. By James Fitzjames Stephen, Q.C. Macmillan & Co. 1876.
Many circumstances combine to make the appearance of this book an event of much interest to English lawyers. It is one of the first-if not the very first-of the serious attempts that have been made to carry out that reform of the expression of the Law which is spoken of as Codification. The book is, in fact, a Bill which could not be carried through the House of Commons, and its publication, as a private venture, will have much the same effect as the Bill would have had, except in so far as the latter would have made changes in the substance of the Law. Other authors may be encouraged by Mr. Stephen's example, to apply the same method to other chapters of the Law, so that when the time comes for codification to be seriously considered by the House of Commons, a great part of the work may be found to have been already done. It is interesting in another way, as a lesson derived from our experience in trying to make our Law intelligible to the subject people of India. Codification of some sort is a necessity of our position in that country. In imposing our Law on the people of India we are bound to make it as plain and as brief as tlie nature of the thing will permit. Accordingly, for many years, the simplification of the English Law applicable to India has been going on, under the direction of the accom. plished lawyers sent out from England as legal Members of Council. When Mr. Stephen held that office the Law of Evidence fell to his share, and if it had not fallen to him to draw the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, we should probably not have the English Digest now. Of course all that was legislative in the Indian Act and the English Bill is omitted from the present work, which is strictly a Digest of the existing Law. It is, moreover, one of the first fruits of that reform in Legal Education which has been brought about within our own time. As one of the Professors in the Inns of Court, Mr. Stephen has felt it to be his duty to do what he could to assist the studies of those who attend his lectures, and to that conviction the publication of the present work is due. It ought to be welcome news to all of us, that so huge a mass of Law as that contained in the ordinary treatises on Evidence can be compressed into the com. pass of the tiny volume before us. If other authors can success. fully emulate Mr. Stephen in cutting down the bulk of the Law they will deserve our gratitude, even if they do nothing in the way of re-arrangement.
When we remember the portentous size of such books as Taylor and Roscoe, it seems at first sight absurd to suppose that all that is material in them should be expressed in a little book of less than 300 pages. We may quote Mr. Stephen himself on this subject :-" The last edition of Mr. Taylor's work on “ Evidence " contains 1,797 royal 8vo. pages. To judge from the table of cases, it must refer to about 9,000 judicial decisions, and it cites nearly 750 Acts of Parliament. The last edition of Roscoe's “ Digest of the Law of Evidence on the trial of actions at Nisi Prius,” contains 1,556 closely printed pages. The table of cases cited consists of 77 pages, one of which contains the names of 152 cases, which would give a total of 11,704 cases referred to. There is, besides, a list of references to statutes which fills twenty-one pages more. Best's “ Principles of the Law of Evidence,” which disclaims the intention of adding to the number of practical works on the subject, and is said to be intended to examine the principles on which the rules of evidence are founded, contains 908 pages, and refers to about 1,400 cases." The plan adopted by Mr. Stephen for reducing this unwieldy mass is described in the introduction. First of all, he has cut off the subject of Evidence from other branches of the Law, with which it is usually mixed up. The question, for example, what may be proved under particular issues, he regards as belonging to the subject of Pleading rather than Evidence. Again, he excludes the greater part of the subject of Presumptions as belonging properly to the different branches of the Substantive Law. In the same way, he excludes rules of Practice, which are often discussed at great length in treatises on the Law of Evidence. Having thus limited the range of the subject, the rest is accomplished by a sheer effort of condensation. Mr. Stephen substitutes for the statement of judicial decisions, which is about all that the ordinary text book gives, a statement in his own language of the rules and principles which scuh cases imply. Any one who has tried to formulate for himself a general rule covering all the decisions on any particular point of law, will appreciate the difficulty of this task. Like a great deal of the work that is done by lawyers, the worth of the result is in an inverse ratio to its size. Mr. Stephen does not confine this method of treatment to the Case-Law. It is one of the novelties of the book that it deals as fully with Statutes as with decisions, setting forth their meaning in the shortest and simplest language possible. “ In many cases,” says Mr. Stephen, “ the result of a number of separate enactments may be stated in a line or two. For instance, the old Common Law as to the incompetency of certain classes of witnesses was removed by parts of six different Acts of Parliament- the net result of which is given in five short articles.”
Fifteen chapters, containing 130 short articles, give us the substance of the Law of Evidence-the article, in many cases, being merely a single short sentence. The article is usually followed by illustrations or examples, selected for the most part from reported cases, but, in some instances, invented by the author himself. The practice of illustrating general principles by particular instances is borrowed from our legislation in India, and might, we agree with Mr. Stephen in thinking, be introduced with advantage into our legislation at home. Mr. Stephen did actually propose to introduce it in his Evidence Bill, but Lord Coleridge, then Attorney-General, did not believe that Parliament would approve of it. Considering how the details of legislation, even on the most technical subjects, are fought over in Committee, we are not surprised that the Attorney-General declined the responsibility of steering a bill full of speculative examples through the House of Commons. The use of illustrations is to make the general rule more easily intelligible, and Parliamentary draftsmen say that to be intelligible does not favour the chances of a disputed clause. In a text-book, however, illustrations are free from any objection on this score, and the use of them simply amounts to this, that whereas the ordinary text-writer gives us nothing but illustrations, leaving us to guess at the rule which they illustrate, here we have the rule set forth dogmatically in the first instance, and illustrated by special cases afterwards. The articles and illustrations are accompanied by foot-notes, giving the authority relied upon by the author; and there is an appendix of notes, explaining more fully the law laid down in the text. There is, perhaps, a certain amount of inconvenience in these arrangements. To get at all that Mr. Stephen has to say,
on a rule of law we have sometimes to consult four separate sections-viz., the Article, the Illustration, the Foot-note, and the Appendix.
Such being the method, we may ask ourselves how the work has been done. Does the book contain a complete statement of the principles of the Law of Evidence, and is this statement simple and intelligible ? To the first of these questions, we have no hesitation in answering in the affirmative. A comparison of Mr. Stephen's articles with any of the large text-books, will, we think, establish the fact that no rule of importance has been omitted. We have even come across rules which seem to have escaped the notice of some recent writers of text-books. We should say that lawyers, most familiar with the rules of evidence in practice, will find the sum of their knowledge presented here in a form which it certainly never assumed in their own minds. Mr. Stephen has, in fact, made the inductions for us all, which each of us has hitherto, with more or less success, attempted to make for himself. From this point of view, we should say that the book will be of more use to a lawyer of some experience than to a student. The former will at once recognise the accuracy of the statements, and will readily catch their meaning, where to a beginner they may possibly seem obscure.
To the second question we are bound to answer that Mr. Stephen, in his desire to be brief, has not in all cases escaped from being obscure. Part I. in particular appears to us to stand in need of a good deal of explanation before it can be considered easy reading for a beginner. Mr. Stephen's literary style is, as everybody knows, marked by singular lucidity and straightforwardness—to say nothing of its other qualities. His habitual clearness of thought and expression is such, that the necessity of being specially careful in framing definitions might not occur to him, and we cannot help thinking that the language of some of the Articles is not quite so precise and intelligible as it might be. Take Article 4, for instance :-" When two or more persons conspire together to commit any offence or actionable wrong, everything said, done, or written by every one of them in the execution or furtherance of their common purpose, is deemed to be so said, done, or written by every one, and is a relevant fact as against each of them: but relations of measures taken in the execution or furtherance of any such common purpose are not relevant as such as against any conspirators except those who make them, or are, present when they are made.” The word “ relations" must here mean “statements"--which is surely, considering its other