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* although it took a large mass of evidence both in support of the demands of the Treasury and in defence of the existing system, did not venture to undertake the final determination of the controversy. It is plain, however, that the Committee in the main held with the Treasury that our judicial establishments are highly expensive and badly organized, that the absence of a uniform principle in their regulation is mischievous, and that a vast amount of public money is paid away in the form of compensation on the abolition of offices to persons whose services might be usefully employed in some public work. The passing of the Judicature Act has made it more necessary than ever to lay down general rules as to salary, compensation, superannuation, and so forth, to be afterwards embodied in a general Statute, which would obviate the necessity for special legislation out of which the present confusion has arisen. The question of compensations and of the employment in new offices of persons receiving pensions in compensation for the abolition of old offices is one of the most important of those into which the Committee have to inquire. The change which has occurred in our legal organization in recent years has swept away large classes of offices, to the holders of which very large compensation has been given; and, as a considerable proportion of the officials claiming compensation on this ground must be persons in the prime of life, the charge remains for a long time a dead weight upon the taxpayers. Thus the constitution of the Probate Court created claims for compensation amounting at the outset to £120,000 per annum, and reduced by deaths in the course of fifteen years to the extent of no more than one-third. There can be no doubt that many of the officers of the old Ecclesiastical Courts would have been perfectly well able to give continuous service under the reconstructed system if that had been insisted upon in considering the arrangements for abolition and compensation. It is not fair to the general body of taxpayers that the public money should be paid away to men in the full vigour of their powers on the mere ground of some departmental change, and that no work should be done in return. It can but be morally injurious to the men themselves, as well as a shameful waste of intellectual force, that they should be relegated to rust half their lifetime on a pension which they have not earnt by service, and for which they give nothing in return.”
There can be no doubt of the truth of all this; the illustrations of it are so frequent and flagrant as to suggest the suspicion that changes in the judicial system have often been made for mere purposes of jobbery, the holders of old offices being pensioned off to create patronage of new ones. Twelve officers of the Marshalsea Court, abolished about twenty years ago, still receive nearly £1500 a year, and in the meantime the Westminster County Court has been created in its place with a new staff of officers, so that the country has been paying for two courts and having only one. So as to Bankruptcy this is the usual course pursued.
OPERATION of THE ADULTERATION ACT.—The operation of the Adulteration Act has caused great satisfaction to customers, but great discontent among tradesmen. This is natural. All classes rejoiced when milkmen were fined, as they have been in many cases, for selling milk mixed with water; or farmers for mixing the milk with water before they sent it up to the milkmen; and everyone was pleased to find a farmer fined £10 for sending up watered milk, or a milkman fined £5 for selling milk, one-fourth of which was water. So all, except the bakers, were delighted to find bakers fined for putting alum into their bread; and not even the grocer could complain when grocers were fined for selling chicory as coffee. But when the grocers were fined for selling tea mixed with sand, or iron filings, they cried out, because they said they did not make the tea, and only bought it. The merchants or importers might make the same defence, and the milkmen made it, when they said they had the milk from the farmers, but they made it in vain, and it was a vain defence to make. It was made in vain the other day, in an action by a grocer against a tea merchant, for selling him adulterated tea. (Powell v. Newson / Court of Common Pleas, Guildhall, Dec. 14, reported in the Times, Dec. 15. There the grocer had bought good tea, and paid a fair price for it, and the court held him not bound to take bad tea. This disposes of the false plea set up by the grocer; and the learned judge, an excellent judge for such a case, Mr. Justice Grove, observed that “the Adulteration Act had conferred a great benefit on the public.” That is our opinion, and we are strongly in favour of its being generally enforced. Indeed justice requires that it should be enforced generally, if at all, and then its operation will be beneficial to the fair trader as well as to the public. The chemists were alarmed by the conviction of one of their body for selling, as “citrate of magnesia,” some mixture which contained no magnesia; but why could they not sell the article by its real name * They rejoiced exceedingly when a magistrate declined to convict in the case of spirits of nitre, as it raised a chemical question as to what it meant; but this only shows that they had no reason to complain of the operation of the Act.
THE REVISED STATUTEs.—The commencement of the legal year appears to be a favourable opportunity for calling attention to the great delay in the publication (by authority) of the revised edition of the Statutes, a work the completion of which is a necessary preliminary to the greater work of codifying the Statute Law. The publication of a revised edition of the Statutes was directed by a letter of Lord Chancellor Cairns, issued with the sanction of the Treasury, and dated the 9th of July, 1868. Since that date three volumes only of the Statutes had appeared, the last of which was published in the summer of 1872. It is said that the whole series will consist of not less than 18 volumes. The Editor has recently, in answer to a correspondent, announced that the 4th volume is now just on the point of publication, and that the printing of volume 5, which will probably bring down the work to the reign of George IV., has begun, and is likely to be completed early in 1874. He went on to say, “the chief cause of the slow progress hitherto made has been the great labour and time required for the preliminary work of expurgation; that is, the repealing of a vast mass of expired and obsolete legislation by the action of Parliament. The expedient of setting on additional hands to the work, in order to accelerate progress, was adopted last year, and the result may be seen in the bulky Statute Law Revision Acts passed in the Sessions of 1873 and 1874. So much has now been done in this direction that no further obstacles than such as may be incident to the publication of so heavy a work are now likely to prevent the continuous and regular production of the volumes, which, I believe, will rather fall short of than exceed the number of 18.”
ABUSES IN THE SUMMONING OF JURIES. — There is no part of our judicial system on which we more pride ourselves than that of trial by jury, and there is none in which such gross abuses are so prevalent. The origin of them all is this—that the sheriffs have long been accustomed to delegate this most important part of their functions to obscure and irresponsible persons. The under sheriffs being always, contrary to ancient statutes, practising attorneys, it is difficult to allow them to have anything to do with the jury lists, and, indeed, their doing so in any case in which they were concerned, would probably vitiate the jury panels. But the function of making up the jury lists and summoning juries is delegated to obscure persons, even bailiffs, who have no proper qualifications for the office, and no proper remuneration for the work, and also too often seek to make it a source of profit by irregular means. One mode, which has been long practised, is by taking money for not summoning jurors who desire to escape from service. Of course, the result of this is that others have to serve much more often than they otherwise would, and then they, feeling the hardship and injustice of such frequent service, constantly absent themselves. Thus the suitors continually find the number of jurors deficient, especially in cases of special juries.
The Times has the following paragraph:—
“A report has been lately presented by Messrs. Allen and Son, the county solicitors, relating to the present mode of summoning juries at the Middlesex Sessions. The report stated that in July, 1873, a complaint was made by a juryman, against the summoning officer of juries to this Court. The juryman in question, who was summoned, found it very inconvenient to attend, and went to the office, when he saw a person in a back room, and on representing to him the difficulty of serving, this person suggested that as he was a gentleman two guineas might overcome the difficulty. The officer was summoned by Sir W. Bodkin to the Court, and he then stated that he knew nothing about the matter, and that one of his clerks must have seen the gentleman, and committed the offence which had been stated. Sir William Bodkin, however, was not satisfied with the explanation, and told him that the county solicitors would be instructed to inquire into the matter. He said that he received nothing for summoning the juries, although he had to pay a clerk 25s. for the performance of the duty; and at this statement Sir W. Bodkin expressed surprise that any duty should be accepted to be performed gratuitously, and supposed that they paid themselves by douceurs from the
public. In this case the juryman did not pay the two guineas, and brought the matter before the Court in the manner stated; but subsequently another gentleman, a stockbroker, made a similar complaint, and has since positively identified Strong as the person to whom he paid the £1. The opinion of Mr. Poland had been taken on the facts of this case, and he considered that an offence had been committed against the 6 Geo. IV. c. 50, s. 43, and that the parties who received the money might be proceeded against for a misdemeanour. Regard being paid to the number of jurors annually required for carrying on the business of the county of Middlesex, Sir William Bodkin desired that the matter should be submitted to the Court, and to consider the propriety of arranging with the sheriffs of Middlesex for the nomination and payment of an officer whose duty it should be to attend to the summoning of jurors to serve at the Middlesex Sessions, and to make such regulations as should prevent a continuance of the present corrupt practice. The report was referred to the committee of accounts and general purposes, and they were authorised to make some arrangement with the sheriffs of Middlesex, and to report to the Court on the next county day. At the same time Mr. Serjeant Cox said that, not very long since, a similar case had come before him, has he had no doubt that this system had been carried on to a great extent.”
INTERNATIONAL CODIFICATION.—A Society, originating out of the International Conference held at Brussels, has been lately organised at Rome. Count Sclopis and General Garabaldi were chosen Honorary Presidents, M. Mancini, President, the President of the Senate and the Mayor of Rome, VicePresidents, and Professor Pierantoni, General Secretary. Upwards of a hundred of the leading men of Italy were present, and much enthusiasm prevailed. The event was inaugurated by a grand Parliamentary dinner, given in honour of the occasion. Arrangements are being made for the formation of branch societies in other countries, as provided by the Brussels Conference.