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amount. He grants all necessary interdicts or injunctions, decides as to servitudes or easements, removings, questions of nuisance, enforcement of rents and feu duties, service of heir to ancestor, &c. In actions of declarator his jurisdiction extends to £1000. In actions of reduction—that is, actions brought to set aside any agreement or other docuinent—there is no limit where the matter arises in bankruptcy; but, if it arises otherwise, the Sheriff cannot entertain directly any action of reduction, though (and this comes to much the same in the end) he can give the necessary redress where the challenge is made ope exceptionis. In regard to moveable rights his jurisdiction is unlimited, and that whether the question is the enforcement of a right or the granting redress for the consequences of its neglect. He decides questions of affiliation, of succession, of aliment between parent and child and interim aliment as between husband and wife. In Admiralty matters he has the same jurisdiction in his county and the adjoining seas as the High Court of Admiralty formerly possessed. He discharges the duties performed in England by a revising barrister. He presides at all Parliamentary elections for counties and boroughs; decides all questions in Bankruptcy; appoints judicial factors on estates not exceeding £100 per annum in value ; and hears appeals against assessments under local statutes. In Poor Law matters he disposes of all appeals against the refusal of relief; and authorizes, after enquiry, the removal of English and Irish paupers to their own country. All orders for the detention or the permanent liberation of lunatics are granted by him. Where errors have occurred in the registration of any birth, death, or marriage, the error is ascertained by him and corrected under his warrant. He fixes the Registrar's hours; and more than 300 couples a year desiring, from whatever cause, to avoid the publicity or the delay attending an ordinary marriage, declare themselves man and wife, and thereafter
get themselves registered as such, after enquiry by the Sheriff, and under his warrant. Under the Education Acts he settles disputed elections, and differences as to the formation of school districts; decides as to the removal of teachers; and hears complaints against people for failing to educate children under their charge. If a graveyard is to be closed or opened; if an absconding debtor is to be stopped ; if considerations of public health require buildings to be altered, wells to be closed, smoke to be stopped, and drains laid or relaid, the ever useful Sheriff is the authority applied to. Where a prisoner dies in jail, he holds a public enquiry; where a person dies under suspicious circumstances, he, if he is satisfied of its expediency, orders a post mortem examination; if two conterminous proprietors have tortuous boundaries he “straightens the marches "; if a manse is in disrepair, and the heritors who would have to put it right are dissatisfied with the action of the Presbytery, there is an appeal to the Sheriff. If, without consent, goods have to be sold, or shops shut, or houses opened, or furniture brought back, or payment of taxes enforced-in short, wherever there is a difficulty, the remedy is a petition to the Sheriff. And in recent years very important and anxious duties have been cast upon Sheriffs in regard to the formation or increase of burghs, the appointment of water and drainage districts, and similar matters of local government, which, either by the direction of the Legislature, or under remit from the Home Secretary, are brought before him for disposal. It will be understood that when I speak of the Sheriff as adjudicating on the above matters, I mean generally the Sheriff or Sheriff-Substitute ; as a matter of fact, it is almost invariably the latter.
Civil Courts.-The chief Civil Courts in which a Sheriff presides are called the Ordinary, the Debts Recovery, and the Small Debt Courts. In the last, all civil and maritime questions where the sum claimed does not exceed £12 are
disposed of. Cases in this Court are heard without any written defence. The Sheriff has before him only the formal printed summons, in a blank part of which, or on a piece of paper attached to the summons, the pursuer has stated the amount he claims from the defender and the nature of his claim. This is a very popular Court. During 1879 more than 57,000 cases were disposed of in the Sheriff's Small Debt Court; Glasgow, as the mercantile centre of Scotland, taking the lead with over 19,000. The average roll there is 124; but, as in summer, the cases are much fewer, a Glasgow Sheriff has in winter generally to face a roll of about 200 cases for his day's work, but occasionally of 300 and even 400. The great bulk of these, as might be expected, is disposed of by a decree in absence of the defender-the number in which both parties appear being generally about a third. The judgment of the Court is given orally, and the result noted by the Clerk of Court in the Book of Causes. Against this judgment there is practically no appeal, for the only ground of challenge is personal misconduct of the Judge. The expediency of such finality may be questioned; it would seem more reasonable that there should be an appeal, with the leave of the Sheriff, on any difficult question of law. But the policy of the Legislature has been to discourage appeals in cases of small value, forgetful apparently that as it compels all questions under £12 in value to be tried in the Small Debt Court, and questions of workmen's wages rarely exceed that sum, the result is practically that the working-men of the country know for the most part of no Judge but the Sheriff-Substitute. Frequently one case is brought to test a question ; and some dozen or some hundred cases which have not been brought into Court are ruled by the decision pronounced on it. It is only right to say on behalf of Sheriff-Substitutes that as they are conscious of the importance due to the finality of their judgments in this
Court, no cases are more faithfully considered and decided
--frequently by written opinion given after some days interval—than cases of delicacy in the Small Debt Court.
In the Debts Recovery Court the Sheriff hears mercantile and domestic claims of from £12 to £50 in value. Agents are entitled to appear, and are remunerated under a meagre tariff of fees. The summons is like the Small Debt Summons, but the Sheriff with his own hand, or by that of the defender or his agent, makes a note of the pleas in defence; and a few days afterwards hears the witnesses, and gives judgment in writing. The evidence is only recorded if one or other party asks it; if it is recorded there is an appeal on fact and on law to the Sheriff ; if not recorded, on law only. If the case is one over £25 in value there may be a further appeal to the Supreme Court.
In the Ordinary Court the cases are conducted nearly in the same way as in the Supreme Court, and from a half to two-thirds of his work is disposed of by a Sheriff-Substitute in this Court. The cases range over all degrees in value. Unfortunately there is not in the Scotch, as in the English statistics, any information furnished as to the values of the cases; but I find from a note which I made of the cases before me during the last two years that the average sum concluded for was over £159. The procedure in the Ordinary Court is rapid, cheap, and distinct. The initial writ is called a petition. It states who the pursuer is, who the defender is, and what the pursuer wants from him. Thereafter come a few paragraphs, called the Condescendence, in which the pursuer narrates the facts by reason of which he thinks his demand is justified; and after these come his pleas in law. A copy of this writ is served on the defender, and he within seven days—or a shorter period if from the urgency of the case the Sheriff thinks such course expedient -lodges with the Clerk of Court a notice of appearance if he resolves to defend the case. On the first Court day
thereafter the case is called in Court, defences are given in, and if necessary a revisal of the pleadings ordered. In about seven days afterwards the record is closed, the agents are heard, and the case decided where that course is possible. But if a proof is necessary to clear up the facts, a day is fixed, from one to six weeks distant, on which the parties with their agents and witnesses attend, and the evidence given is formally noted down by the Sheriff or by a shorthand writer, after which the agents briefly argue the case, and the Sheriff takes it to avizandum, as it is termed, to allow him to consider the case, and put his judgment in writing. When it is ready he hands it to the Sheriff-Clerk, who has a duplicate made; the process is made up, and the judgment is issued to the parties, and a brief note of its tenor made in the Act Book of Court.
In cases of much urgency the procedure is condensed and the action is at times run through Court in from four to ten days; but as an ordinary rule a case, unless delayed by appeals, is disposed of by the Sheriff-Substitute within from three to eight weeks after it comes into Court. The too great cheapness of the appeal to the Sheriff and the delay it causes can become in the hands of an obstinate or dishonest litigant the source of oppression and injustice to his opponent and of a grievous waste of time. So much was this the case that the Legislature had to intervene, and now practically the only appeal that can be taken before a judgment on the merits is given is one against an order for proof. At the cost of twenty to sixty shillings as his own agent's fee, a fraudulent defender can stave off progress in the case for two or three months, and, further, gain as much more time by appeal against the judgment on the merits. Most unfortunately, too large a proportion of appeals both to the Sheriff and the Supreme Court are of this character. But it has, on several occasions, been held by Sheriffs that an agent is not entitled to acquiesce in the judgment of a