Page images
PDF

SOLICITORS' CASES.
Court Of Appeal (lincoln's-inx).

(Before Jessel, M.R., and Brett and Corros, L.JJ.)
July 20.—In the Matter of Edwin Bunt.

This was an appeal from an order made by the Queen's Bench Division on the 4th inst. (reported ante, p. 680), for an attachment against one Edwin Hunt, an accountant, for having acted as a solicitor without being duly qualified to do so. The matter had been referred to one of the mnsteis for inqniry, and from his report it appeared that Hunt was an accountant living in Cbarlotte-street, Bedford-square. He inserted an advertisement in the Times, addressed to solicitors without practice, offering them business at a good remuneration. A solicitor named Cotton responded to tbe advertisement, and some arrangement was entered into between him and Hunt that the latter should be allowed to nse Cotton's name, and that the rfonts of busintss transacts should be shared between them. Hunt had acted as a solicitor in various matters under the style of Cotton 4 Co.

By section 2 of the Act (6 ft 7 Viotoc. 73) it is enaoted that no person shall act as a solioitor unless admitted and inrolh d and otherwise duly qualified to act, but no penalty is imposed. And seotion 32 provides that any solicitor who wilfully and knowingly permits his name to be used in any aotion or other proceeding by any unqualified person upon the account or for the profit of any unqualified person shall be struck off the rolls, and that "in that, case," it shall be lawful for the court to commit the unqualified person to prison for any term not exceeding a year. And by seotion 26 of tbe Aot 23 & 24 Vict. o. 127, it is proTided that every person who acts as a solioitor contrary to the ei act men t in section 2 of the first Act shall be deemed gnilty of a contempt of court, and may be punished aoooidiogly.

Fil'aii, for Hunt, contended that the case fell within section 32 of i he first Act, and not within seotion 2, under which, as amended by section 26 of the second Act, the order had been made, and that under section 32 no proceeding could betaken against the unqualified person until alter the solicitor, who had permitted him to use his name, had been struck off the rolls, for which purpose no application had been made. The appellant Lad really only been acting as tbe managing clerk of Cotton, and had done nothing but that which is always done by a managing clerk, though an unprofessional arrangement might have existed for the division ot the profits of the business.

W. Murray, for the Incorporated Law Society, was not called upon.

Jessel, M R., said that section 2 of the first Act was quite general in its terms, and was intended to be so. It simply provided that no one should practise as a solioitor unless he was duly qual fled. Section 32 had a different object. Seotion 2 was primarily directed against the unqualified person who acted as a solicitor; section 32 was primarily directed against the solicitor who lent his name to an unqualified person for his profit, but it also added a summary remedy against the unqualified person. Under section 2 the only remedy would have been by an indictment for misdemeanor, whereas, if tbe unqualitied person could be brought within section 32, there was a summary remedy against him. By the Act of 1860 the Legislature amended this, and extended the summary remedy. It was said that section 32 would apply to the managing clerk to a solicitor, but a managing cltrk did not act as a solicitor, and it was clear that the appellant had acted as a solicitor. Section 2 applied, and the appeal must be dismissed.

Ukett, L.J., was of tbe same opinion. He aaid the oase was too plain for argument. It was one of those shameful and dangerous caseB in whioh an accountant acted as u solicitor, and, knowing that be was doing wrong, attempted to cover it by inducing a solicitor who bad been just admitted to lend him his name, upon terms which bad not been dieolosed, butcould be easily guessed. He was acting as a solioitor nnder tbe cover of the name of a solioitor, and there was no room for any argument at all.

Cotton, L.J., suid that if section 32 applied, section 2 equally applied to the case. There was none tbe lees an offence against section 2 because the case also came within section 32. Tbe appellant did not pretend to act as a clerk; he was really acting as a solicitor on his own behalf.

SOCIETIES.

INCORPORATED LAW SOCIETY.

The adjourned annual general meeting of the Incorporated Law Society was held on Friday, the 15th inst., at the society's hall, Chancery-lane, Mr. Charles Clabidoe Drdce, president, occupying the chair.

Upon the motion "That the annual report be received, approved, and entered on the minutes," which was moved by Mr. J. M. Clabon, the then president, and seconded by Mr. C. C. Deuce, as vice-president, at the meeting oo the 8th inst., an amendment was moved by Mr. J. E. Fox, and seconded by Mr. Francis Miller, to add to the motion the following words :—" With the exception of that part thereof which relates to the call of solicitors to the bar, this meeting being of opinion that the resolution of the Inns of Court should not be accepted, but that solicitors should have facilities for call to the bar equal to those already given to the members of the bar for admission to the roll of solicitors."

The Chairman thanked the members of the society for the compliment paid to him in his election to the office of president. He appreciated it all the more, inasmuch as it wis not paid to him by his clients, or by the judges of tbe land, who, perhaps, might not know much about it, but by the best of all judges in the matter, his professional brethren.

Mr. Francis Miller, as the mover of tbe adjournment, resumed tbe discussion. He h»d not seconded tbe amendment in any spirit of antagonism to tbe council, for whom, in common he believed with the great majority, if not all, of his professional brethren, he entertained the sincerest respect, but he bad felt it his duty to do so, because he could not believe for a single moment that any conclusion such as that contained in the report could be considered as a satisfactory settlement of the question. The report said that any solicitor who had passed the society's preuminixy examination in its entirety might, ou keeping four terms and passing the bar final examination, be called to the bar. He did not understand the word " entirety."

The Chairujln said that occasionally a part of the examination was dispensed with.

Mr. Miller, in that case, would not wish to deprive any member of the profession of his right to be called to the bar. The report only referred to those who had passed the preliminary examination of the society, bat even at the present day there were many solicitors who had passed some other examination in lieu of it, or had obtained a dispensation order. He hoped that these would not be exoluded from going to the bar.

The Chairman observed that the council had every reason to believe the Inns of Court would act favourably to these gentlemen, though he could not pledge himself with respect to it.

Mr. Miller thought tbe fact that they did not know the final decision of the Inns of Court was sufficient reason for not adopting tbe report in its entirety. Tbe society ought not to acquiesce in any arrangement by which solicitors were compelled to wait twelve months before they could go to the bar. Tbe meetings in the ball had several times come to tbe conclusion by large majorities that solicitors ought to have the right on passing the bar final examination to be called to tbe bar without any other impediment being placed in their way. Why should solicitors be a proscribed class? (A Voice.—They are not.) There was at one time a regulation of the lone of Court which affected solicitors and solicitors only, and whioh said that until they had waited three years after leaving their profession they v-ere not to be called to the bar. Why should solicitors alone be placed under this invidious distinction? And if they were the honourable body of men whioh be believed they were, why should they still have to wait one year without being permitted to earn their living? The regulation practically exoluded tbose who would be most likely to take advantage of the opportunity of being called to the bar. The junior members of the solioitor branch of the profession would not be those wbo were deeirotu of becoming barristers, but tbose who had been for some time in the profession, and who having made a name in it, felt themselves capable of doing greater things than they could find opportunity for as solicitors. If the meeting adopted the report as it stood, it would not be possible even for thoee whom they reckoned the greatest of the profession to go to the bar. It wonld not even be possible for the president or any of those who had preceded him to take advantage of the regnlation. The Inns of Conrt wonld say they had not passed the preliminary examination. No matter that the examination was not institnted j when they entered into artioles. There was not a single member of the counoil wbo would be able to profit by the regulation proposed to be sanctioned. He ventured to say that not above one-fourth, or at any rate one-third, of the profession would be benefited by the regulation. The meeting could not allow it to go forth that the great body of solicitors meeting in their hall had determined that this was a satisfactory settlement of the question, and that as the Inns of Court had permitted them to go to the bar after relinquishing their business for twelve months, they were content. It was plaoing solicitors under a ban to which no other body of men were subject. Anyone but a solicitor might go to the bar without being compelled to give up his business for three years. He hoped the council would continue to direct their efforts towards the removal of this obnoxious regulation, and he felt oertain that as they had year by year gradually induced the Inns of Conrt to give way, in another year or so they would obtain the removal of this regulation, and the solicitors would be as free to go to the bar as any other of her Majesty's subjects.

The Chairman read a letter which had been forwarded to him by Mr. Clabon as follows:—*'I saw, during my year of office, two sets of treasurers of each Inn, and had much communication with them, the result being an absolute conviction in my mind that it is hopeless to get the Inns of Court to agree to more than a redaction of the twelve terms to four, and a dispensation with the preliminary examination for those who have passed our preliminary examination, with a further and very strong belief that Parliament will not interfere to compel the bar to admit us, more particularly after what they have now offered. I look upon it that the passing of the amendment would perpetuate the present state of things." That was the late president's view, and his own was in one sense stronger. The report did not profess to set forth what the council would wish to do, but what they had been able to do, and his own feeling, after close consultation with the council, was that it Would be impossible for them to obtain any further concession at present.

Mr. C. Ford was very anxious that it should not go forth to the public that the society considered this resolution as final and satisfactory. He read an extract from the council's report of 1877 :—" Previous to the passing of the Attorneys and Solicitors Act, 1860, an apprenticeship of five years, before any person could be admitted an attorney or solicitor, was in all cases and without exception necessary. This Act shortened (five years to three) the apprenticeship of persons who had been called to the bar, and, by regulation made by the judges under that Act, the same persons are exempted from the preliminary examinations which the Act authorized. Barristers not nnfrequently disbar themselves in order to become solicitors, and in the greater proportion of such cases the candidate is of suoh age as to make an apprenticeship inconvenient, if not distasteful, and of such attainments as to make it unnecessary." He would have been glad if the council bad followed that more closely, but if they would give some assurance that they were of opinion that the present state of things was not satisfactory, and that sooner or later the same privilege of going to the bar must be given to solicitors as the barristers enjoyed of coming to the solicitor branch, he would be satisfied that the report should be adopted.

Mr. Edwin Bedford thought this a very important question, bnt was at the same time of opinion that the society had a great deal to thank the council for in having obtained snch a concession. It must be remembered that it was not what they wished to have, but what they were able to obtain, that should satisfy them, and he had read with mnch pleasure that part of the report which stated that the council had, by their exertions, obtained a resolution from the Inns of Court by which the term, which had originally been three years, had been reduced to one. They might, of course, hope that even that was not a final settlement of the question, but he was afraid that in attempting too much they might lose everything, and that if the bar saw by what

took place at this meeting that they were not even content with what the council had obtained for them, they might say, "Nothing will satisfy them; we will go back to affairs as they originally were." He hoped his fellow-members would feel they had much to be thankful for, and that they would support the council in what they had done, leaving to the future some further amelioration of the regulation. He did not think that solicitors who wished to go to the bar would find that one year such a very great hardship. His experience had been that it was usually the solicitors who had met with a certain amount of success who felt desirous of going to the bar, and these would not objtct to losing one year's profits in order that this might be brought about.

Mr. Dodds, M.P., happened to know something of the efforts which bad been made to get the council's Bill passed through Parliament, and was cognizant of the difficulties which had beset the labours of the council on behalf of their own branch of the profession. He might say there was no gentleman in the room who was more strongly of opinion than he was that the year which still remained should be swept away, but it was necessary to consider the state of things as they existed and how they could be remedied. The conclusion to which the council had come had been that a very great step in advance had been made in the interests of the solicitor branch of the profession, and that they ought very gladly to accept anything which removed the difficulty which formerly existed, ;it any rate as far as two yearB were concerned, of the gap which existed between themselves and the higher branch of the profession as it was called. He did not regard this in any way as a final settlement of the question—(A VoiCB.—The words of the report)—it was only a settlement of the question for the present, but neither in this, nor in matters of a similar kind, was there any finality. There was no reason why any future council who should represent the society in times to come should not endeavour, at some future period, to get rid of the one year which still separated the two branches of the profession, or any reason why the present council should not continue their efforts. Mr. Miller had referred to the solicitors as a proscribed class. This had been the case to a certain extent it was true, but they were now so fur a privileged class that, instead of its being necessary for them to keep twelve terms before they were called to the bar, they were privileged to go there after keeping four tarms. He (Mr. Dodds) was of opinion that those foor terms ought to be got rid of, but as half a loaf was better than no bread, they ought well to be pleased when they had got two-thirds of the loaf. His experience in the House of Commons had been that the men who had been most successful in the accomplishment of reforms were those who had shown a readiness to adapt themselves to circumstances and to accept a compromise where a compromise was desirable— those who had been ready to take something on aooount and in time they got the remainder of what they considered themselves entitled to. If he knew his brother solicitors, he thought they would be of opinion that the council bad adopted a wise course in coming to the conclusion at which they had arrived. He was quite sure that by proceeding with their Bill, tbe council would not have been able to have accomplished any improvement. By accepting compromises in communication with the Inns of Court and with those in authority the council had gained this great step, and the least that members could do would be to accept this great concession which had been made—not as a final settlement of the question, but as a settlement for tbe present—and then they might agitate as much as they thought proper for the removal of the year whioh remained. The council hoped this would be accepted as a great instalment of the measuro of justice to which they thought the solicitors were entitled, and which, if thxy were now content with what had been conceded, he believed they would obtain at no very far distant period.

Mr. £. Kimbeb quite agreed that this was a great step in advance, but in a question of this kind it was necessary to take into consideration those who belonged to the law and those who did not. Mr. Dodds was of opinion that it was a great instalment of justice, but in what light would the public regard it? Only the other day one of the newspapers had Lad a leading article upon the last discussion in the room, and had said distinctly that if the solicitors could do so little for the public, if the Incorporated Law Society could advance in Bo little a way towards granting reforms which the public could appreciate, the public would know how to appreciate the Incorporated Law Society. He (Mr. Kimber) was rare the public would ask, if two years can be dispensed with, wby not dispense with the whole three? and what was the use ot retaining the four terms? It was qnite true that the most successful men in Parliament had been those who, seeing the opportunity for a compromise, had seized it ; but this was not the kind of compromise to which they ought to agree. They could not agree with the conncil in considering this a satisfactory settlement of the question. This report, being placed as it would be in the archives of the society, supposing the members should raise another agitation, it wonld be thrown in their teeth that they had adopted it and accepted iis terms. Was it not more advisable to say in their report that they considered this only as a temporary settlement of the question P In his opinion that was all that the amendment desired—that they did not accept it as a permanent settlement of the question. He was sure the public would not accept it as such.

Mr. G. A. Ckowder said the object of the report was to state what had been done. They had heard from a member of the council, speaking on behalf of the council, that, while they claimed a certain amount of consideration for the concession which bad been obtained up to the present time, it was not to be considered as a final settlement of the question. This was a violation of the words of the report. He maintained that if the meeting adopted this proposition, that this was only a temporary settlement, and that further advances would be made at some future time, they might very well adopt the report.

Mr. Gregory, M P., thought it was possibly known to the members that be bad taken considerable interest in this question, and had for some years done what little he could in the promotion of the interests of the profession by bringing it under the consideration of Parliament. To his mind, the council had mace, at all events for the present, what he considered a very good settlement of the question, and when gentlemen pressed upon the council what they were desirous should be done, they onght to consider that the council were not the Houses of Parliament. They were neither the House of Lords nor the House of Commons, much less were they both of them, and they mutt not only take into consideration what they would like to be done, but what the council were able to do. They must also remember that the bar was a very influential and powerful body in both Houses of Parliament. The society had a Bill in the House of Lord', and he had ventured to give notice in the House of Commons npon the subject, and tbe question was whether the council should bring on the one or the other. He had always looked upon the Bill in the House of Lords as hopeless, because the greater number of the lords who took part in the discussions were law lords, and every law lord and every connection of a law lord was u bencher of one of the Inns of Court. They could, therefore, look for but little success for a Bill promoted n the Upper House on the subject. With regard to the Lower House they knew that there, too, were many members of the bar, and it was not only the members of the bar who were to be considered but their connections, the law officers of the Crown, and the various ramifications which were all represented there, and which they had to meet. It was of little use discussing this question in the hall of the society unless they were prepared to move the public out of doors, and he ventured to say that the public would never go with them to any greater extent than the concession already granted. The council had to make the best terms possible, and when gentlemen objected to the year being retained, they should know that it was retained for the same reason the three years were originally retained, in order that an interval might exist between the passage from one branch to the other, and that the solicitor might not carry with him to one branoh the connection he had made in tbe other. Speaking for himself, he oould not see why the solicitor should not take this connection with him, because it had been legitimately earned, and might be legitimately retained, but, at the same time, that was a reason urged and strongly pressed in tbe House of Commons, and one with which there had been considerable difficulty in dealing. It was therefore, he thought, wise of the council to come to some compromise by which tbey would practically attain tbe object they had in view j and be asserted tbat they had practically attained it; because it was no very great hardship for a man to have to pause for one year in his progress from the solicitor branch of tbe profession to the bar.

Three years had been felt to be a great hardship, and, to some extent might, perhaps, reduoe a man to the starvation point, bnt this would not be the case when one year only was in question. He thought a really good arrangement bad been made, aud one wbioh gave the solicitors a very considerable status and a much better opportunity of availing themselves of the passage to the bar. He thought the arraogement one which ought to be satisfactory to solicitors, and which bad raised their slatui in the eyes of the public.

A Member said the meeting were perfectly satisfied with what tbe council had done, but they did not wish it to be recorded in the report that they considered the settlement, which had been arrived at as a satisfactory solution of the difficulty. Personally, he hoped tbe time would come when all distinctions which at present existed between the two branches, would be swept away, and be would be one of tbe first to join in any public movement with this object. If the report were adopted in its entirety, he felt that it would stultify any efforts he might hope to make in tbe future with the view of arriving at what he considered to be a satisfactory conclusion. In his opinion the costs of litigation would never be diminished until tbe two branches were united, and he felt certain that the public would be entirely in favour of such a movement. If tbe two branches were combined, as was the case in America and other places, the public would not be saddled with such heavy costs as was tbe case at present.

Mr. Thomas Paine (vice-president) suggested that there was no question before the meeting. It was clear they all bad one end in view, and if the council had thought fit in the exercise of their discretion to accept tbe present settlement, he ventured to think it would be very unwise to attempt to go further.

Mr. J. E. Fox asked if there was any return of the number of solicitors who had gone to the bar, and the number of barristers who had become solicitors during the past five years?

The Chairman said tbat he was informed by the secretary that at the most twelve barristers had joined the solicitor branch of the profession. It was impossible to say how many solicitors had left to go elsewhere.

The amendment, on being put to the meeting, was negatived.

Mr. F. K. Mcnton observed, with respect to the remarks which had been made at the last meeting concerning the library, that although he did not agree with the strictures passed upon ita management by Mr. F. W. Parker or with Mr. lndermaur, who considered that the students were entitled to the whole of the library, he thought some improvement oucht to be made. Would it not be possible to retain one wing solely for the use of members, or if this were not practicable, at any rate a clear table? He did not think it ought to go forth that there was any suggestions of inattention on the part of the officials in the library. Ho thought everyone would say that, from Mr. Williamson down to the junior porter, the members received the greatest attention.

The Chairman remarked that the librarian had informed him that the southern wing of the library was set apart for the members, and that students were only allowed there when there was no room elsewhere. Duplicate practice books were also kept. A few months since the council had formed a committee to consider the accommodation of tbe entire building, and it might fairly be assumed that they would take the library into consideration.

The motion for the adoption of the report was then carried.

Mr. James Powell read the following motion of which be had given notice: "That the Council of the Incorporated Law Society do forthwith take such proceedings in the case

Re W , solicitors, submitted to the said Bociety by

Harris & Powell in March last, as to this meeting shall seem fit."

The Chairman considered he onght to ask the meeting whether this was a matter they should consider at all, as the question had been put before the council already for discussion as a purely conveyancing matter. Tbe council had adjudicated on it to the beat of their ability, and it would be exeessively inconvenient if it were reopened in such a meeting as the present.

Mr. Powell said that the chairman having so decided he would not press tbe subject for one moment.

Mr. Green rose to order. There were two notices on the ■paper by Mr. Ford, relating to pleadings in legal proceedings and the payment of fees to barristers' clerks. These subjects bad already been dealt with in tho report. It seemed to him that the notices were out of order.

Mr. Ford remarked that the meeting was not in a position to examine into the merits or demerits of the motions until he had brought them forward.

The Chairman thought that, as the notices had been before them for some lime, Mr. Ford should be allowed to briDg them forward.

Mr. Ford moved, "That the nse of pleadings in legal pro. ceediDgs can, with advantage, he discontinued as a general rule of practice." He would like to say at tho outset that he had no desire that pleadings should be abolished. He agreed with the report|wben it said:—"It has bscn suggested that pleadings should be abolished, but the council are of opinion th*t, although there may be instances in which pleadings could be dispensed with, yet in the majority of contentious cases the result of not ascertaining, by me ins of pleadings, the issues to be tried would be to increase greatly the expense of preparing for trial." He wished, however, to point out that it had been the intention of the Judicature Act to get rid of pleading, and to substitute something which was much more simple, hut unfortunately the result

.1 been that the pleadings with which solicitors had to deal were as technical as any which had existed before the passing of the Act. The terms of the Ru'es of the Supreme Court were, that the statement of complaint was to be as brief as the case might admit. It was to be a simple, plain statement, not a technical pleading. He suggested that the better plan would be to dispose of the issue at judges' chambers. Under the circumstances he had informed the gentleman who was to have seconded the motion that he wished to be allowed to withdraw the motion.

The motion having been withdrawn,

Mr. Ford read the following notice of motion which, at the suggestion of the chairman, he subsequently withdrew:— '* That the practice which sanctions the payment of barristers' •clerkB, by suitors, for services rendered by such clerks to barristers as their employers, is objectionable in its operation, and ought to be discontinued."

The Chairman read the following notice of motion which had been given by Mr. Francis Miller:—"That a general meeting of the society shall be held at such lime and place in the month of January or February as the council shall appoint." He observed that this looked like requiring an alteration of the bye-laws, and he would prefer a direct motion with this object.

Mr. Miller said that he wished to alter the bye-laws by his motion in order that in future there should not only be an annual meeting which was held in the hottest month of the year, bnt a meeting in addition at an earlier period of the year, when the members would be likely to have a little ■more time to attend. At present the me°ting was held at a time when it was impossible for them to attend in any great numbers, and of those who did attend many were compelled, by reason of other engagements, to leave before the meeting ■was concluded. No less than 250 gentlemen came into the hall at the last meeting, and how many were able to remain until the end? He thought the council should meet their constituents more frequently, in order that they might hear their opinions on the various subjects of interest to their branch of the profession. Until recently thoy had only had their annual meeting in July, and he believed that it was in consequence of thi-, to a very great extent, that the Metropolitan and Provincial Law Association was formed. That led to the holding of the anneal meetings of the society in the provinces. This was a step in the right direction, but it did not go far enough. The fact that only 250 gentlemen attended their annual dieetings was an argument for the holding of additional general Heelings at a mors convenient period of the year. It would be an advantage to the council to meet tht ir constituents more frequently, and to hear the opinions even of those who were most opposed to their policy. The annual meoting only lasted two hours, and it was impossible for the members to express their opinions on the various subjects in which they were interested. If they were to meet in January they would be meeting at a period of the year when what tbey did might have some influence on the events of the succeeding six months, whereas, when they met in July, the session of Parliament was .practically at an end, and all they had to do was to hear what had been done, and go away contented. They ought to

meet at a time when their opinion could be expressed as to the course which ought to be adopted.

Mr. Paine referred to the bye-laws, which, he observed, must be varied if the motion were carried. The charter required that an annual meeting should be held iu the month of May or as Boon after as might be convenient, and that other general meetings should be held as occasion should require and the bye-laws should direct. The bye-laws said that a special general meeting might be called at any time, and that twenty members might require a meeting to be called, in which case the council were compelled to call the meeting. Bye-law 19 said that no motion for the alteration of a bye-law should be considered unless previously approved by the council, or unless twenty-one days' notice should have been given. This was in effect a motion for the alteration of a bye-law, and he ventured to submit that the terms should be altered to a request to the council.

Mr. Kimber seoonded the motion. As he understood the bye-law, it said that meetings should be held as occasion should require, and he apprehended that there were many occasions for holding meetings, as often, perhaps, as once a month; at the most the motion was an expression of opinion that it would be convenient to have two meetings in the year instead of ono. The Chairman thought Mr. Miller should amend his motion.

Mr. Miller expressed his wish to do so.

Mr. Todd remarked that if the meeting were held in January as suggested, it was very desirable that the subjects should be placed before the meeting as it should direct, and not as the president of the society should think fit. He thought that it was very inconvenient when a member brought a subject forward which be had already brought under the notice of the council, and was dissatisfied with their decision, that the president should say, " This is an improper matter to bring forward; it has already been considered."

Mr. F. K. Munton moved the resolution of which he had given notice as an amendment to Mr. Miller's motion. It ran as follows:—" That in addition to the afternoon annual business meeting in July, two meetings be held on the second Fridays in January and April respectively, to be called the 'January and April Meetings,' and that such meetings take place at seven o'clock p.m." He wished to observe at the outset that Mr. Miller had agreed with him that the amendment should run as follows: "That in the opinion of this meeting it is desirable that in addition," &c, and he thought it might be left to the council to consider the matter further and determine what should be done. He had attended these meetings for seventeen or eighteen years, and had always endeavoured to strengthen the hands of the council, and he did not desire to do anything which was in opposition to the council except so far as was necessary to demonstrate the point he was bringing forward. They must have all noticed how at the meeting last week half the members had left at a quarter to three, and at half-past three the speakers were referring to "the late hour which had been arrived at, and that they felt it impossible to address the meeting" on a subject which they had come some miles to speak upon. A very fair number had been present at the commencement of the meeting, but at least one-third had left before three o'clock, about another third before halfpast three, and at four the adjournment of the meeting was moved. The council very properly took little part in voting on the motion; but when he moved that the adjourned meeting did take plaoe in the evening, nearly the wholo of the council held up their hands and so carried the voting. Ho would be sorry to deprive the members of the council of the opportunity of dining at their usual hour, but he hoped that if the opinion of the meeting was that it was desirable to meet at an hour when they would not feel it necessary to rush off to attend to the business of the day, the council would sacrifice a little convenience in order that the business of tho society should be properly conducted. For many years after the establishment ot the society the members were content to leave everything to the s ife keeping of the council, but in these times the members were of opinion that the council ought not to be content to deal wholly with the important questions which came before them without applying now and again for the vote and sanction of their constituents. It was impossible for tho members to consider the question before them dispassionately in the busiest month of the year, at the busiest hours of the day, when they felt that they ought to be attending to other business of their own. There were other societies who felt it their duty to meet quarterly, and he had notioed that with regard to one of these, Mr. Clahon—for whom they had all the highest respect—was always regular in his attendance at their meetiogs which were held in the evening. He hoped that the members of the council would not object to sacrifice an evening now and then for the good of the members. There should be two meetings in January and April, in addition to those already held in July and October, which would make four quarterly meetings. He did not ask the council to go to the trouble of presenting a report at each of these meetings, but he thought they could very well send round a short circular stating the main points which required to be considered. He was not wedded to a particular hour. Some of the members in the country had written to him suggesting fire o'clock, and he was quite willing to leave this as a question of detail in the hands of the council. All he asked was tbat the hour should not be in the middle of the working day, for it was the opinions of the persons actually at work in the business of the profession which were the most valuable.

Mr. Dalton Miller, in seconding the amendment, remarked thut the council were appointed by the members, and they ought to be acquainted with tbe opinion of the members, or they would not carry out their wishes.

Mr. J. W. Pboudpoot considered it very necessary that they should meet more frequently, that they might have an opportunity of representing, in a proper manner, tbe grievances solicitors had to contend with. The way in which cases were disposed of—he would not say tried—was most unsatisfactory. Under present arrangements, with the courts in so many different places, it was impossible to bring cases properly before the juries. They ought to have more frequent opportunities of bringing these matters hefore the council, that they might be remedied.

Mr. Lake, speaking as a member of the society and not as one of the council, was personally quite in favour of the motion, and that other meetings should be held than those it was customary to have at present. He was quite in favour of holding quarterly meetings if the society thought it right to do so, but he must object, in the strongest manner, to the hour which had been suggested, not on the ground of mere individual convenience, because he was sure that no member of the council would like to put that forward as a reason, but on the ground that the greater number of the members lived out of town, and he thought a meeting at that hour would not bring more than twenty-five gentlemen together. He would vote against tbe motion for the purpose of afterwards bringing forward a similar motion, but omitting the hour of meeting, and leaving it to the council to call it for such an hour as they should think fit.

Mr. F. R. Pabxbb had been quite opposed to the motion, but Mr. Munton had at least convinced him that the question was worthy of consideration. He suggested that Mr. Munton should so frame bis resolution as to snake it a request to the council, or to the committee which was to be appointed, to take it into consideration. He thought it would then be passed without any division. He deprecated, however) the arriving at any definite conclusion in so small a meeting.

Mr. T. H. Bolton hoped tbe motion would be passed. It was all nonsense to talk of recommending the matter to tbe serious consideration of the council, but there was no wish to fetter their hands, and the members only asked for an opportunity of bringing forward subjeots of interest to tbe general profession. He thought two o'clock as oonvenient a time as any for the meeting. He was sure seven o'clock would prevent a great many from coming, and thought that the question of the time should be left to the good sense and judgment of the eouncil.

Mr. J. L. Tocble bad always noticed a great difference of opinion between the council and the members at these meetings, so much so that many were quite disheartened, and retrained from making suggestions on account of that great body of power which they saw before them. He thought they should meet frequently and discuss their grievances, and there w>is plenty of opportunity for reform.

Mr. Kubbnstein wished for more opportunities of meeting the council, and ttiought two o'clock an inconvenient time. Many of the members attended at great personal inconvenience, which would not be the case if the meetings were held in the evening.

Mr. Munton, with the permission of the meeting, altered the amendment to the following :—" That, iu the opinion

of this meeting, it would be desirable tbat, in addition to the afternoon annual business meeting in July, two meetings should be held in the months of January and April respectively, and that such meetings take place at such an hour as the oouncil may appoint."

Mr. Paine said the chairman wished it to be known that the council had no indisposition to meet the membdrs as often as they desired. Time was, of course, of eonsequence to all of them, and not more to the counoil than to tbe members. They all attended at much inconvenience to themselves, and the council bestowed a good deal of their time, as wisely as they could, for the benefit of the members. The meeting bad, he thought, been wise in leaving the hour of meeting to tbe council, whoso purpose would not be answered if an hour were fixed at which members could not attend. This would merely be to throw the decisions into the hands of a few who would take the trouble to be present.

The Chairman observed that the time of one meeting need not regulate that of another.

The Chairman put the amendment as altered, which was carried unanimously.

Mr. Fbancis Milleb moved, "That the council be requested to hold the half-yearly meeting of tbe society in the City of London." He thought that the January meeting should be held in tbe City, which would be a very great convenience to a large number uf, the members of the society who had offices in the City, and were desirous of attending these meetings. Many of those who had not hitherto attended would do so if a meeting were held in tbe City.

Mr. Kimbeb seconded tbe motion.

Mr. Bolton thought that if a man would not take the trouble to oome to the hall he would not attend these meetings under any ciroumetanoes.

At the suggestion of Mr. Munton, Mr. Miller withdrew the motion, aa his only desire waa to consult the general convenience of the members.

Mr. Kimdeb moved: "Tbat a committee be from the members of the society for the purpose of 1 mending what changes might be benefioial in tbe organization and functions of the society so as to make it more useful to the public and the members, aud more representative of the wishes and interests of the profession at large ; and that snoh committee consist of the following gentlemen :— Mr. Bubenstein, Mr. Hanhart, Mr. Collings, Mr. Joseph Mote, Mr. Frauds Miller, Mr. Fot, Mr Munton, Mr. Bolton, and himself." He did not propose to say anything in support of his resolution, but would content himself with reading tbe words of tbe report, as follows :—" The oounoil are now awaiting tbe report of the committee, and, according to tbeir promise, will send a oopj to every member of the society, and call a speoiil generitl meeting to consider it. It was proposed st t meeting held in May tbat an outside committee should be formed to make suggestions before the epeoial geoera! meeting should be held. Tbe oouncil assent with | to this, and suggest tbat at the general 1 tee of this character be appointed, and that it o< some of tbe members who nave taken part in tbe < with any additions that may be suggested."

Mr. Hanhabt seconded tbe motion.

Mr. Lake would like to know whether Mr. Kimber hid. read the extract from the report as supporting or opposing his resolution? In his opinion it distiiiotly opposed it, as the report suggested one tbing, and tbe resolution Soomthing totally different. It waa one thing for the couaeil to suggest tbat there should be a oommittee appointed for the purpose of making "suggestions before tbe special general meeting Bhoold be held," but quite a different thing to have a oommittee for the purpose suggested by Mr. Kimber. It appeared to him to be a vole ot oeusnre on the oouncil. It would also be necessary to have a new charter altering the constitution of tbe society, and what good could come from the appointment of a committee of investigation without giving tbem power to see books or oonsult offioials? What good would they do by coming to Cbanoery-lane and asking questions? Speaking as a member of tbe oounoil, and considering the motion as a vote of ensure on them, he for one woold not assist the oommittee in tbe slightest degree. Mr. Kimber could coc be trying to take in tbe society, but he was using a very disingenuous argument in saying tbe council intended u> appoint a committee for the purpose he (

« PreviousContinue »