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a separate circuit.
This has long been considered not only necessary, but also a very desirable alteration, and Lancashire is itself very desirous of such a course being pursued. It is now evident that this would have been the proper course, when, in 1863, the Northern Circuit was divided by being shorn of the County of York.
The next question which arises is, what is the best thing to be done with the other counties at present forming the Northern Circuit. We think that there is only one practicable plan to be adopted, i.e., to add these counties to Yorkshire, and so make the Northern Circuit consist of the same counties, minus Lancashire, as it consisted of at the division in 1863. The business of the Northern Circuit so constituted will thus be considerably less than the business of the county of Lancaster alone. Taking the last circuit as an example, we find that the causes on the whole Northern Circuit amounted to 240, and that of these Lancashire supplied 182. Onthesame circuit Yorkshire supplied 104 cases (rather more than its usual number); these added to the Northern Circuit, minus Lancashire, give 162 causes for a circuit formed of the northern counties and Yorkshire; but, as the Yorkshire business was at the last spring assizes rather more than usual, as we believe was that of the other northern counties, we might expect an average of 150 causes on such a circuit as we suggest, calculated on the present circuit arrangements. A suggestion, has, however, been made which we consider a most practical one, viz., to give Yorkshire a winter assize in the same manner as Lancashire. This is only a fair concession to the amount and importance of Yorkshire business. Such a proceeding would certainly reduce the cause list at the spring assizes at Leeds, and most probably at the summer assizes also ; so that it might be calculated that the Northern Circuit would, under the proposed plan, average from 130 to 140 cases, i.e., something less than the present Midland Circuit, an amount of business which there would be no difficulty in despatching in from five to six weeks, the usual time allowed for a circuit.
We would suggest, moreover, that, should a winter assize be established for Yorkshire, that the assize should be held at York and not at Leeds. York is very central, is quite as easily approached from, and is as near to, most of the southern parts of the West Riding as Leeds. York is much more easily approached from the southern parts of the county of Durham and the northern parts of the North Riding than Leeds. A winter assize, therefore, held at York would not only accommodate the Yorkshire business, but it would also give better facilities than Leeds to that business, which is very fast increasing, in the south of Durham and the north of Yorkshire, i.e., at Darlington, Stockton, and Middles
borough. The Bar, we believe, would certainly prefer York to Leeds for a winter assize, the southern division of the West Riding have a marked preference for York rather than Leeds as an assize town, and, what is equally important, the judges, we believe, entertain the same preference. We are also of opinion that the last town on a circuit should be the most central town of the circuit, so as to give facilities for causes necessarily late being tried as near their proper venue as possible.
The execution of this plan will create an additional circuit, and so one of two plans must be adopted; either the Government must create fresh judges, or the remaining circuits must be redistributed so as to diminish their number by one. We certainly think the latter plan is quite feasible, as some of the circuits are far from overburdened with work.
The plan which we should recommend as both simple and feasible is this : Divide the English circuits thus-Home, Western, Eastern, Midland; abolish the Oxford as a circuit, and alter the Welsh circuits; increase the Home circuit by Winchester, Reading, and Aylesbury; give Gloucester to the Western Circuit; let the present Norfolk Circuit be called the Eastern Circuit, add to this Lincolnshire, taking away Leicester; form a Midland Circuit consisting of the counties of Derby, Nottingham, Leicester, Stafford, Birmingham (abolishing Warwick) Worcester, and Oxford.
With regard to the three remaining counties—Shropshire, Hereford, and Monmouth-giving Shropshire to the North Wales Circuit, and Hereford and Monmouth to the South Wales Circuit. Radnorshire might with advantage be transferred to the South Wales Circuit.
The circuits would thus consist as follows:
Northern-Northumberland, Westmoreland, Cumberland, Durham, Yorkshire.
Home.—Hertfordshire, Essex, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Hampshire, Sussex, Surrey, Kent.
Western.-Wiltshire, Dorsetshire, Somersetshire, Gloucestershire, Devonshire, Cornwall.
Eastern.-Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Rutlandshire, Northamptonshire.
Midland.-Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire.
North Wales-Montgomeryshire, Merionethshire, Carnarvonshire, Anglesea, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Shropshire, Cheshire,
South Wales.- Pembrokeshire, Cardiganshire, Carmarthen
shire, Brecknockshire, Radmorshire, Glamorganshire, Monmouthshire, Herefordshire, Cheshire.
The following objections will probably be raised to such a re-distribution That the Home Circuit is large enough already. Our answer is, that it is and that it is not. Taking into account that so much London business is always done at the last town of the Home Circuit, the circuit is quite heavy enough already, but we hope that some arrangement will shortly be made, as appears to be contemplated by the 31st section of the Judicature Bill, which will result in the business of London being done in London at some better constituted form of Metropolitan sittings. Take away the London business from the Home Circuit, and, as we propose it, it will be a light one in respect of business, nor will it be inconveniently large. That the rest of the plan is objectionable, because it gives too many towns to some circuits. There may be some force in the objection, but it will be diminished if a simple, and, we think, a reasonable plan be adopted. It is this: at certain places, where the business does not amount to much and where two such counties adjoin, hold an assize for both counties alternately in one of these counties only. Take, for instance, Cambridge and Huntingdon; the same gentleman always acts as sheriff for both of these counties at the same time, the business is always small, the towns are very near to one another. We cannot see, in these railway days, what inconvenience or injustice would ensue if the spring assizes were held at Huntingdon, and the summer assizes at Cambridge. It may also be questionable whether it is at all worth while holding an assize at Oakham. Leicester is but a very few miles away from Oakham, and, as to this county, the whole business, when there is any, might be done at Leicester.
There are other counties, such as Derby and Nottingham (these towns being very near each other), to which the plan of an alternate assize might, with advantage, be applied; and this arrangement would, we venture to think, be particularly appropriate to the Welsh counties.
As a matter of deep interest to many members of the bar, who will be considerably affected, professionally and pecuniarily, by any kind of alteration of the Circuits that may be decided upon, the issue of the Report of the Commissioners will be looked forward to with great interest, now that the operation of the Judicature Act has been postponed, during the interval that must necessarily ensue before the publication of the Report. We are given to understand that their lordships have resolved to create an entirely new Circuit, to
be called the North Eastern, which will comprise Manchester, Liverpool, Lancaster, Carlisle, and Appleby. The Northern Circuit will henceforth retain Durham and Newcastle-uponTyne, and take from the Midland, York and Leeds. The Midland thus shown will have added to it Bedford, Leicester, Aylesbury, Northampton, and Oakham, taken from the Norfolk Circuit, which we suppose will be retained as the Eastern, to comprise Cambridge, Huntington, Norwich, and Ipswich. The Home, it is said, will be abolished, but of this, in its entirety, we have some doubt.
LEGAL TOPICS. Novation IN INSURANCE.-The extremely important question of novation, to which we have referred in previous numbers, has occupied a very prominent place in the Albert Arbitration before Lord Cairns, and in the European Arbitration before Lord Westbury. The same question has been recently brought also before Lord Romilly, who is now acting as Lord Westbury's successor, in unravelling complicated affairs of the European Arbitration. We now reproduce an able article on the subject which recently made its appearance in The REVIEW, a journal chiefly devoted to insurance literature, apropos of a leader in the Times.
“ A recent number of the Times contains a leading article on the past and present working of the European Arbitration. After remarking with regard to the European Arbitration that it fell first to Lord Westbury to dissect the intricate complications of facts, and the delicate questions of unsettled law which arose out of its misfortunes,' the writer states, what we suppose most persons conversant with the subject will be disposed at once to endorse, viz., 'that the Law of Insurance has, beyond dispute, been greatly enriched by his decisions." Our writer in the Times then proceeds in the following manner : ‘But one striking feature of his acts as arbitrator was the apparent difference of his view as to the mutual responsibilities of the insurance companies and their policy-holders from that which Lord Cairns had upheld during his conduct of the Albert Arbitration. The incongruity was, as we believe, far more apparent than real, and might be traced very satisfactorily to the dissimilarity of circumstances in the cases respectively decided.'
After this he adds somewhat naïvely, ‘But it must be admitted that a sort of uncertainty was, in fact, cast upon the interpretation with reference to Insurance Companies of the important legal doctrine of ‘Novation, and of others only second to this in legal significance. The practical inconvenience from the seeming conflict of decisions was aggravated by the impossibility of appealing to any regular Court to adjudicate becween and reconcile opinions technically hardly judicial, though possessing in effect judicial authority.' We may here remark, en passant, that not one of the decisions of any of the arbitrators possesses the very slightest judicial authority, and that several of the judges in the Equity Courts have refused even to listen to them when counsel attempted to cite them in argument.
Sydney Smith, we believe, once laid it down as a general rule, that a man who is anxious to write a slashing and effective criticism on a book ought to be particularly careful not to read the book before he took up his critical pen-it prejudiced the mind so, he said. We are afraid that the mental preparation through which the writer in the Times passed previously to writing the article at present under consideration must have been of a similar character to that which was recommended by the Rev. Sydney to the wouldbe critic. If he had perused, even in the most cursory manner, the leading decisions of Lord Cairns and Lord Westbury on the subject of novation, he could not, we think, have avoided seeing that there was the most real difference possible between their views upon this question ; that, in fact, the principles laid down by Lord Cairns in the course of the arbitration were diametrically opposed to the principles laid down by Lord Westbury, and that the dissimilarity of circumstances in the cases respectively decided' affords no explanation whatever of the difference in the decisions.
The principle on which Lord Cairns proceeded throughout the whole of the Albert Arbitration was, that the entire onus of showing that there was no novation lay upon the policy. holder. He, in fact, considered that when a policy-holder paid his premiums to, and accepted receipts from, some other company than that one with which he had originally contracted them (to quote his own word :), “the burden of explaining the apparent irregularity of the receipt, the apparent variance, the open variance between the receipt and the payment of the premiums contemplated by the policy,' lay upon the policy-holder who produced what was to be considered as an improper receipt. Indeed, in one of the last cases which came before him on the subject of novation he expressed himself as follows: 'I have, in cases that are now very numerous, held that were persons have allowed themselves to drift into dealing with the