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culminating point of service is an extravagant blunder ? It is clear that either the Commission has been ungratefully handled and maligned, or the public infamously plundered, and its interests cruelly abused.
What is thought of the matter by the present Attorney-General (who seems to be the only man of the present day capable of carrying out any great measure of reform), may be perhaps gathered from a remark made by him in the House on 30th June last, which was to the effect that “we had had for several years a Statute Law Commission, but with the exception of some bills laid upon the table, upon the day before the dissolution of the last parliament, by the late Attorney-General, that Commission had not produced a single measure.” These remarks of the Attorney-General were elicited upon the introduction by Mr. Whiteside of twelve bills to consolidate and amend the Criminal Statute Law of England and Ireland. We need hardly inform our readers that these twelve bills did not reach a maturity riper than that attained by the seven bills of Sir Fitzroy Kelly, to which the Attorney-General alluded as above.
Mr. Whiteside could not have expected, and Sir Fitzroy Kelly never intended, to carry their respective projects further than the stage at which they naturally stopped." It appears to be a habit into which those who would acquire at a cheap rate the reputation of law reformers fall, to parade ostentatiously bills which not only could not be adopted by the legislature, but which would not even bear its investigation. No one, however, does give the slightest credit to the ambitious gentlemen who pursue this course.
measures," moreover, are never of such value as to be taken up by any one subsequently. They are simply a grave mockery.
On Mr. Whiteside's acting as undertaker to these bills of his, when he moved their second reading he made a speech. We only refer to it because the Attorney-General, in noticing it, took occasion to say
that the present government would, in the next session of parliament, undertake the consolidation of the statute law, and that the criminal law would be that part first introduced to parliament. It is granted that the House of Parliament cannot examine the provisions of a consolidation bill. Parliament is not the proper machine for this purpose. The legislature must give its sanction to any comprehensive measure on the credit and faith of those to whose care it is committed. The Statute Law Commission has not earned, nor does it possess such credit. The Attorney-General has pointed out frequently what is the only course now open to us, that of establishing a “DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE,” which should comprise men,' whose sole duty should be to enter upon and carry out the necessary measures, “who should be responsible,” who should perform their duties after a different
“ manner to the Statute Law Comission," "and upon whose credit and faith all measures of consolidation should be introduced to parliament.”
Times, Par. Rep., July 1st.) Though this is the real step which 1 "The state of things is this, that we must either forego consolidation altogether, or leave it implicitly in the hands of a few learned and able men in whom we have confidence.”—(Lord Brougham, Times, Par. Rep., July 19.) VOL. VII., NO. XIV.
ought to be taken, yet adverse influences seem still to stand in the way of the Attorney-General, who is driven to undertake, in the way he has mentioned, that which we do not think is rightly thrown upon the law-officers of the crown, and of the success of which, we regret to say, we are still not sanguine.
The country has been too long trifled with in this matter, and its interests made subservient to those of private individuals whose incapacity is now confessed.
Under Sir R. Bethell's auspices, we will still hope that new light will be thrown on the darkness in which his predecessors have been groping.
FUTURE LAW REFORMS.--The session now concluding--thanks to the patriotism of the late government in dissolving parliament at the most important crisis of the country's affairs—has been too short to accomplish any of the multitude of the reforms now pending either in promise or threat. The programme for the future session may probably be made out from sundry fair promises of the Lord Chancellor-(House of Lords, July 18th)—from which we gather the subjects of legislation will include bankruptcy, the transfer of real property-equity courts reform, in regard to the vicious mode of taking and “cooking" evidence now in vogue in Chancery—and the assimilation of the practice of courts of law and equity.
The Attorney-General, previously, in a more expanded form, and in answer to a question by Mr. Scully, stated as to the proposed reform of the law touching titles to land, that “the report of the Registration Commission was under the consideration of the Government, together with the very valuable schemes brought in by the late Solicitor-General. A measure would shortly be prepared and submitted to Parliament; but it was impossible at present to state the details, except that its object would be to give effect to the proposition for a registration of titles, and to carry into effect the commissioners' recommendations.
Be it however remarked, that the “valuable schemes brought in by the late Solicitor-General,” were completely at variance with “the Commissioners' recommendations.” The considering of the "scheme" and of the “recommendations,” must be therefore carried out in compliment to Sir Hugh M. Cairns, or for the purpose of profiting by the contrast thereby presented.
The Committee of the Four Inns of Court, appointed to consider the whole subject of legal education, have made their report, which will be found in a previous page. The benchers of all the respective inns have not as yet given in their adherence to the report. We trust, however, in a future number to be able to inform the profession that the principles and suggestions of this report have been accepted by each of the inns, and that ere long rules will be drawn up in accordance therewith. The profession and the public are under great obligation to the committee, and it is hardly to be anticipated that any bench will hold out longer against the well-considered proposals wbich have been made, and the general feeling in the profession in favour of them,
1 See L. M. & R. (for May) No. 13, p. 187.
THE RECENT ELECTION OF THE JUDGE OF THE LONDON SHERIFF'S COURT.—Some sixteen barristers were found who condescended to become candidates for the office. Some of them, doubtless, repudiated the idea of degrading themselves and the office by canvassing, and adopting the demeanour and trickery which are usual on a popular electionand so they lost their election. We must do the electors the justice to say, that they saw the propriety (not to say the necessity) of purifying in some measure the list of candidates, by adopting a certain resolution which, according to a successful electioneering device, was carried immediately prior to the show of hands. The resolution was as follows :-“That no person be eligible to be a candidate for the office of judge of the Sheriff's Court who has ever been convicted of fraud, or who has compounded with his creditors, or been a bankrupt, or has taken the benefit of any of the acts for the relief of insolvent debtors, and has not paid 20s. in the pound, this court being of opinion that the terms of the 39th standing order, disqualifying members of the court from serving on committees or commissions chosen by this court, or from becoming governors of either of the Royal Hospitals, by virtue of an appointment of this court, should be applied and acted upon in the cases of candidates for judicial appointments under the corporation.”
Mr. Corrie, whom the profession would have been willing to see preferred to the judicial office, unfortunately lost the election by two votes, and the scramble for the coveted prize terminated by Mr. M. Kerr's getting it.
PARLIAMENTARY. The doings of the new parliament during the short session, now terminating in favour of the moors, must be briefly adverted to. Our main difficulty in alluding to them here, is the uncertainty and incompleteness which attend measures at this period of the session. No one knows what may not be slipped through, or postponed, compromised, or muddled, in the last struggles.
Lord St. Leonards' “ Law of Property and Trustees' Relief Amendment Bill," having been again carried through the House of Lords, is now in the Commons. The old objection there formerly made to the clause exonerating a purchaser from crown debts upon which process had not issued, may, we fear, be again advanced to the detriment of this truly useful law reform. There is evidently a misapprehension on this matter in official minds. Under the statutes 33
Hen. VIII., c. 39, and 13 Eliz., c. 4, the rights of the crown affect purchasers of freehold property ; 2 & 3 Vict., c. 11, protects purchasers unless the obligations we are referring to are registered. The Chancellor of the Exchequer stated in the House, that only bonds of a permanent nature, when the responsibility amounted to £1000 or more to each party to the bond, were registered by the departments of the customs, excise, stamps and taxes, woods and works, the paymastergeneral, the national debt, war, and ordnance. And further, that since 1856 only thirty crown bonds were registered on the part of the custom-house officers, who used to register an enormous number. Of course the registration of these bonds only affects freehold property. In effect, therefore, for the sake of the possible enforcement of crown claims against the freehold property of a small number of crown debtors (and it is not a striking, but a very certain fact that all crown debtors are not possessed of large freehold estates), every purchaser or mortgagee of every freehold, however small, is put to a considerable expense in making search to secure himself against the contingency of hiability to the crown. Well
may Lord St. Leonards' say, “ It is to be lamented that sounder views are not entertained on the subject.”
No opposition was encountered by the “ Attorneys' and Solicitors' Bill,” in its rapid progress through the Houses of Parliament; but questionable amendments having been introduced by the Lords, it will require close attention by the legal members of the House of Commons. The object of the bill is "to amend the act for consolidating and amending several of the laws relating to attorneys and solicitors in England and Wales.” One of its new provisions is directed to encourage those about to enter the profession to seek a liberal education, and thus raise the standard of intelligence among lawyers. But many other points affecting the lawyer find place in the bill
. Instead of "consolidating and amending several" of the laws on this head, it would have been expedient, but too reasonable a thing to have given really one good consolidation statute, which here it was possible to have effected.
The Divorce Court Amendment Bill is now in the hands of the legislature. In what shape it may ultimately come out, our readers will know in due time. The Chancellor has expressed his “readiness to pay all attention in his power to any amendments which might be submitted to his notice before the bill is committed,” (Times Parl. Intell., July 21st.) The primary intention of the bill is to increase the judicial force of the court, by including all the judges among the assessors of the judge ordinary, when a full court is wanted. Another provision has been introduced at the instance of Lord Brougham, to prevent collusion : the court having the power to call in at discretion the aid of the Attorney-General. Lord Chelmsford took, we believe, a correct view of this Amendment Bill; he seemed to think it might be an improvement, but was not the proper reform-nor that which was called for. He said the court ought to be made entirely independent, and he pointed out the disadvantage of the judge-ordinary not presiding in the full court. On the
whole, the bill is a poor makeshift, a provisional expedient, and a mere experiment; but something was to be done, and every-body's wishes to be attended to. There is, moreover, in some quarters an absurd jealousy of the court being made really an effective one. The idea of the “ lower orders” coming within its operation, shocks all propriety, and this is a favourite theme with popular preachers and philanthropists, whose care is exclusively applied to the purity and orals of “inferior persons. When the proceedings in the court appeai "unfit for publication," it is further proposed to be enacted that its doors may be ordered to be closed, for the sake of public virtue. if the principle of this provision is sound, it should be extended to all our courts, where the same reasons apply. vision is inserted in the bill, to give the court power to make orders with
profession is a measure at last likely to be carried. Leave has this session been obtained by Mr. M‘Mahon, and Mr. Brady (by a majority of 179 to 173,) to bring in a bill abrogating the law by which Irish students of law must keep terms in the English inns of court. The motion was opposed by Mr. Whiteside and Mr. Malins. The sole question herein involved, refers simply to the welfare of the Irish barristers. That some derive advantage from sojourning in England, while some merely waste time and money here, is and has been notorious to all who have had opportunities of judging. The balance of advantages should be marked by those experienced and interested in the subject. Possibly, however, the English Bench would not be adorned by such men as Martin and Willes, if the ancient practice now sought to be abolished had not existed.
The commitments by County Court judges have of late been much discussed, and Mr. Collier has, in consequence, brought forward a bill on the subject. It has been assumed that the power is occasionally abused, and so it has been proposed by some to take it away altogether. An able letter from a County Court Judge has lately appeared in the Times newspaper, in which he explained, what is notorious to those who know any thing about the working of county courts, that the power in question is one essential to the useful operation of the law. A common instance will illustrate the law, as the abolitionists would have it. A mechanic known to be in the receipt of £3 a week, and to whom the usual credit weekly or monthly is naturally extended, chooses to repúdiate payment, and judgment is recovered. Living in lodgings, and being without incumbrance, he can shift his place of residence as he likes, and, having no chattels to be seized, he snaps his fingers at the judgment against him, and the poor shopkeeper not only loses his debt, but has to pay the costs incurred in his endeavour to recover it. We disagree, we may add totally, both in principle and from experience, with the report of the committee of the Law Amendment Society on this head. We have seen in the daily working of the county courts the multitude of attempts at fraud which are alone met by the pro