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In common with most medical men, our author assumes that, in the matter of criminal responsibility, the law has failed to recognize and adapt itself to advancing medical knowledge. The argument is in effect that, if all were known, many persons now responsible to the law would be held insane, and, therefore, irresponsible. This seems to involve the proposition, that every one classed by medical men as insane should be held legally irresponsible, or, at most, only responsible in a minor degree. But Dr. Clevenger practically admits that it has been found impossible to define insanity. Obviously, no physical test can be relied on; and if the existence of an unsound or unhealthy temperament, or a departure from an imaginary normal state called sanity, is to render a person legally irresponsible, society would become a prey to every abnormal instinct or vicious desire.
The Law relating to Company Promoters. By W. N. HILBERT, assisted by F. W. RAFFERTY. London : Effingham Wilson. 1898. Pp. 103. Price 55.
The term “Company promoter” is popularly used as one of opprobrium. At one time one of the first questions asked in crossexamination of a witness, whose credit it was desired to shake, used to be, "Are you a company promoter ?” Mr. Hilbert has recognized this, and is anxious to show “not only that the functions of a company promoter may be discharged on strictly legal and, at the same time, remunerative lines, but further, that in its proper exercise the office is as useful and honourable as the many callings and professions that are justly held in esteem."
The first part of this endeavour Mr. Hilbert has fulfilled, and he has explained to the promoter how to conduct his business so that no one can attack the profit he has earned; but we hardly think he has seriously attempted the second, not because it is impossible or, perhaps, even difficult, but because he has wisely perceived that such an attempt would not add to the value of his book as a law book. The idea of the book is a good one, and it is carefully carried out. To begin with, Mr. Hilbert has had the courage to attempt what has baffled so many, namely, to define the term
promoter." He does it thus: “A person who engages himself as principal in the formation of a company in such a way that when it emerges into existence it may be said to be the creature of his creation in the same way as a parent so stands to his child.” We are not sure that the definition is very happy, and it must lead to confusion of ideas to compare the relation of a promoter to his
company to that of a parent to his child. The question, when parties are to be considered as promoters, is carefully gone into, and the cases on the subject quoted and examined. There is a good chapter on the fiduciary function of company promoters, and under what circumstances sales made by them to their companies will or will not stand. In the chapter on the liability of a company for its promoter's costs, is discussed the so-called equitable liability of a company through its having taken the advantage of a contract made by its promoter. This is a question on which there is a considerable difference of opinion ; but Mr. Hilbert, in spite of the case of In re the Empress Engineering Co., 16 Ch. D. 130, refuses to accept the doctrine, and explains the decisions in all cases where the company has been held liable under such circumstances to the fact, that acts of acceptance or part performance on its part were evidence of a novation or new contract. The book is well worth reading, and we hope, for the sake of commercial morality, every company promoter will purchase a copy and peruse it carefully, although such a course might lead to a diminution in the profits of some of the members of the legal profession.
The Criminal Evidence Act, 1898. By WILFRED BAUGH ALLEN. London: Butterworth & Co. and Shaw & Sons. 1898. Pp. 72.
The Criminal Evidence Act, 1898. By ARTHUR REGINALD BUTTERWORTH. London : Sweet & Maxwell. 1898. Pp. 117.
In each of these works there is an introductory chapter. In Mr. Allen's work it is contributed by Sir Harry Poland, Q.C., and takes the form of a short and interesting history of the Act, in which he strongly defends the measure. Mr. Butterworth contributes hisown introduction, and is not so favourable to the Act. He foresees. many difficulties and dangers, and having had experience of the working of a similar act in New South Wales, his opinion on the subject is entitled to weight.
Mr. Allen sets out the Act, with notes and references at the end of each section. These notes are clear and accurate, and as far as they have been tested, we believe Mr. Allen's opinions on disputed points have been found correct, notably on the questions of prisoners giving evidence before the Grand Jury, and the prosecuting counsel's right to sum up after the prisoner has given evidence. Mr. Allen also sets out in full the Acts, or parts of Acts, contained in the
Schedule to the principal Act, and a list of the Acts passed since 1872, by which the accused and the wife, or husband of the accused, were made competent witnesses.
Mr. Butterworth's work is more ambitious; he deals at considerable length with the power of the Judge to comment on the fact of the prisoner not giving evidence, and is strongly opposed to the exercise of that power which he considers would practically frustrate the object of the Act. He also has a long and useful note on the question of disclosure of communications between husband and wife. Mr. Butterworth argues that in the event of the prisoner only giving evidence on his behalf, the prosecution were deprived of the right of summing up, but this strained construction was decided not to be law in R. v. Gardner (1899), 1 Q. B. 150. Mr. Butterworth in another note considers and comments unfavourably on R. v. Wealand, 20 Q. B. D. 827, and considers it cannot be distinguished from R. v. Paul, 25 Q. B. D. 202. Mr. Butterworth adds an elaborate table of the offences under the enactments referred to in the Schedule. He does not give in full all the Acts in the Schedule, but gives some of them only, and also some Scotch Acts. He also gives in the Appendix a number of colonial enactments referring to the subject, and including India, but not Ceylon.
Selden Society. Select Cases in the Court of Requests, A.D. 1497– 1569. Edited by I. S. LEADAM. London: Bernard Quaritch. 1898. Pp. 257. Price 28s.
The value of the publications of the Selden Society to all students of our early history and law is well known, and the present volume is in no way inferior to those that have already appeared. The cases are edited with great care and learning by Mr. Leadam, who also contributes a long and learned introduction, in which he traces the history, constitution and procedure of the Court of Requests from the time of its establishment, in the early part of the reign of Henry VII., to its extinction, during the troubles of the Civil Wars. He shows how, from a sort of sub-committee of the King's Council, to whom was committed the remedying of injustices to men too poor or unable from other causes to plead in the Common Law Courts, and the settling of differences between the Royal Servants during the .constant Royal Progresses of those times, it grew into a Court that transacted a tremendous business, and had suitors of all ranks and degrees appearing before it. The history of the manner in which this Court was regarded by the Common Law Courts is very interesting, and shows how, from having at one time regarded it as a
useful supplement to their own jurisdiction, they came to look upon it as a dangerous rival which must be suppressed. In spite of the prohibitions they issued, and the contempt with which they regarded the Court of Requests, the large amount of business it transacted up to the outbreak of the Civil Wars, proves that it must have supplied a real want. The cases throw a light on the disturbed economic conditions of that time, arising from the great changes in the cultivation of land, caused by the introduction of sheep-farming and the consequent struggles between lords and copyholders to maintain or improve their respective positions. There are also some interesting cases upon the question of bondage, which was not even then extinct, and others arising out of disputes between Guilds and the trades. It is unlucky that in many cases only part of the pleadings have been found, and in a large number more the decrees and orders are absent; but some of the most interesting land cases seem to have had all or the greater part of their proceedings preserved, including the judgments.
Mysteries of Police and Crime. By MAJOR ARthur GRIFFITHS. Cassell & Co. 1898. 2 Vols. Pp. 495, 483.
The object of this book is, as indicated by its sub-title, to give a general survey of wrong-doing and its pursuit, and it fairly carries out its object, giving accounts of a large number of crimes or supposed crimes, collected from various periods and countries, but mostly from the criminal annals of our own country, France, and America. As might be expected, the book contains a great deal of interesting matter, set out in a pleasant readable style, but is written mostly for popular reading, and not from the view of a criminologist or a lawyer, though the observations the author does make on the genesis of crime are worth attention on account of the -study he has devoted to the subject, and his large practical acquaintance with criminals. He does not seem to be, to any great extent, a believer in the theories of Lombroso, although he attaches a certain importance to heredity; but, roughly speaking, he attributes crime to the presence of original sin, and considers that it is innate in everybody, although it may be developed or checked, according to circumstances, by mental disease, surroundings, education, etc. There is a good account of the origin and growth of the Police and Detective systems, both in this country and in France, and strenuous and generous vindication and praise of the conduct of our police in the perpetual struggle with the great army of crime. It is interesting
to watch how the ways and methods of criminals keep pace with the progress of civilization and science; but it is not entirely satisfactory to think that the advance of science is at least as much to the advantage of criminals as against them; and in the case of the most dangerous of all—the poisoners—it may be feared, as pointed out recently by Sir Henry Thompson and Sir Crichton Browne, that the increase in the knowledge about poisons will render the danger of detection to experts almost infinitesimal. It is, of course, very difficult to say whether poisoning is on the increase or not, as in the really successful cases it is never discovered that a crime has been committed at all.
Memorials, Part II., Personal and Political, 1865-1895. By RoundELL Palmer, Earl of SELBORNE, Lord High ChanCELLOR. London: Macmillan & Co. 1898. 2 Vols. Pp. 496, 489. Price 255. net.
To adequately deal with this work would require more space than we have at our command, but we can point out a few of the most interesting features. It does not deal with many of the cases in which Roundell Palmer took part as an advocate, with two notable exceptions. The first is the extraordinary case of a Mrs. Ryves, who claimed to be a member of the Royal Family, and who took proceedings under 21 & 22 Vict. cap. 93, for a decree to establish the validity of the marriage of her grandmother with the Duke of Cumberland. To this action Roundell Palmer was, in his character of Attorney-General, defendant, and appeared in person. Mrs. Ryves, however, was unable to establish the authenticity of the documents she adduced in support of her claim, and after a long trial before a special jury and three judges -Chief Justice Cockburn, Chief Baron Pollock, and the present Lord Penzance-was defeated. The other trial, if trial it can be called, was the most important in which Roundell Palmer ever took part, being no less than the Geneva Arbitration. His account of the proceedings of this tribunal is very interesting, and full of information and warning as to the value of the decisions of these tribunals now so much in favour for settling international disputes. Roundell Palmer took an active part in carrying the Strand, as opposed to the Embankment site, for the Royal Courts, in spite of formidable opposition headed by Layard. Other points of interest to lawyers are his schemes for Legal Education, the Judicature Acts, the Folkestone Ritual Case, Bishop of Lincoln's Case; and there are letters and expressions of opinion entitled to great weight on all the most important public