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ccpt so far as may he necessarily involved in the question of criminal responsibility. We know what the answer from a loose popular point of view may be. It will be admitted that coroners' juries are constantly in the habit of overstepping their province, strictly speaking; but it will be said that it is on the whole good that they should do so; that moral delinquency is thereby branded, and a good effect in practice is thereby produced. We are not at all convinced by that answer. We do not deny that often the uncalled-for, and so to speak extra-judicial, utterances of coroners' juries may be justified, but we cannot for a moment assent to the proposition tbat it is desirable that a constitutional tribunal should take upon itself to pass judgments in its judicial capacity upon matters not properly in issue before it. As a rule, if the conduct of any person has been bad, the publicity given by the reports of the evidence constitutes a penalty of a similar nature to that inflicted by the censure of the jury, and even if it were otherwise, we cannot think that the advantages supposed to be secured are an equivalent for the obvious dangers and mischiefs that in many cases may arise.
At trials in criminal courts, and at Nisi Prius, conduct of an objectionable character is frequently brought before juries, but except so far as a judgment thereupon is involved in the verdict found by them, juries do not often pronounce any opinion thereon. They may occasionally volunteer incidental observations on the conduct of persons concerned, but, as a rule, judges do not encourage them to go outside their province and indulge their moral susceptibilities by the expression of judgments of this kind. The wisest and most judicially minded judges exercise great selfrestraint over themselves in the comments which they permit themselves to make with regard to conduct, the propriety or impropriety of which is not directly in issue before them. A function that is thus sparingly exercised by assize juries, and even by judges, seems to be constantly arrogated to themselves by coroners' juries as their rightful province. It is obvious that this may in some cases involve the grossest injustice without the possibility of redress. A person against whom no particular charge is formulated, who cannot defend or justify himself effectively from difficulty in knowing with any exactness what points he has to meet, may be for ever branded by an offhand and irresponsible expression of opinion on the part of a jury composed of the least satisfactory type of jurymen, presided over, perhaps, by a medical man unable, from want of legal training, to control and direct their investigations so as to confine them to the points which they arc really charged by the law to determine. It is frequently the case that coroners' juries express opinions as to the necessity of further precautions or by way of censuring certain modes of carrying on business in reference to railway and other accidents. These expressions of opinion may do no harm, but we very much doubt their doing any good. Other much more potent agencies may be relied upon to effect the desired object of such expressions if practically attainable. It is, however, with regard to the censure of particular individuals that we think the practice of coroners' juries objectionable.
"Somebody ought to be whopped for this "is an expression of opinion which has now become classical, and this language very fairly represents an attitude of mind which is natural to all men unrestrained by habits of reflection and responsibility, and particularly common, we should think, among ignorant, narrowminded persons on a somewhat distressing and irritating occasion. But the danger and impropriety of allowing such persons to avail themselves of the performance of a public function to give vent to this kind of feeling by hasty and ill-considered judgments foreign to that function when rightly considered, must be obvious. Cases of very bad conduct, such as the jury seem to have considered that of the seducer in the case which suggested these remarks, tend to mask the real objections to the practice we are deprecating. Such matters can only be properly judged of with reference to general considerations, not with reference to particular and exceptional matters.
It seems to us that the whole machinery of the coroner and coroner's jury urgently requires consideration. It has been handed down to us from antiquity. It originated at a time when stipendiary magistrates were not, and when the public press did not exist. The verdict of twelve men selected from the general public constituted then the most efficient safeguard for justice and
liberty. It is doubtful, in our opinion, whether, if at the present time a machinery were being devised for investigating into deaths of a suspicious or exceptional character, such a machinery would commend itself to anyone. It frequently necessitates the simultaneous holding of two long and expensive inquiries, and sometimes, when the special tribunal charged with the inquiry whether there is prima facie ground for criminal proceedings has decided in the negative, it involves the absurdity of a man's being put on his trial without the slightest probability of a conviction.
It is frequently urged with great vehemence by medical contemporaries that it is an essential qualification of a coroner that he should be a medical man. It seems to us that the procedure of coroners' inquests is so uncertain and anomalous that there is good ground for retorting that there is an exceptional need of a trained legal intellect to direct the inquiry, and to keep the jury to the proper limits of their province. The case we have referred to was, perhaps, in its particular circumstances, an exceptional one. It suggests, however, readily enough to anyone with any capacity for general considerations, the possibility in other cases of the most grievous hardship and injustice arising from the loose and irresponsible indulgence in the luxury of virtuous indignation on the part of a coroner's jury. If they find a verdict involving criminal responsibility, the person inculpated is either convicted or clears himself in a criminal court. But if they choose to find a verdict involving merely moral tlamc, there is no appeal against it to any other tribunal. There may have been no opportunity of effective defence, there being no definite charge. The verdict n >t being the subject of any subsequent action, may not be given with any due sense of responsibility, and may be merely the expression of a hasty and ill-considered opinion.
BANKRUPTCY LAW REFORM.
Clause 21 of the Government Bill takes the place of sub-sections 3 and 4 of seotion 14 of the present Act, and is as follows:—
"Clause 21. — (1.) When a trustee is appointed, the creditors may, at any meeting, by resolution, appoint some other fit persons, not exceeding five ia number, nnd beiog creditors qualified to vo'e at the meeting, to form a committee of inspection for the purpose of superintending the administration of the bankrupt's property.
"(2.) The creditors may, by resolution, give directions as to the manner in which the. property is to be administered by the trustee, and it shall be the duty of the trustee to conform to such directions unless the court for some just cause otherwise orders."
Sub-clause 1 extends the power of tho creditors to appoint a committee of inspection to any meeting, instead of at the first meeting only, except in case of filling up a vacancy, as at present. This we think desirable. But it limits the power to appointing creditors only to act as members of the committee. At present any duly authorized proxy of a creditor may be elected on the committee. We do not think it desirable to alter this power, at any rate to the extent proposed. Power should, in our opinion, be given at least to elect a servant in the employ of a creditor and duly empowered by his employer so to act and represent him. Otherwise it will not be possible for a limited company or other corporate body to be represented on a committee of inspection, although such company or corporate body may be the largest creditor. It often occurs, too, that the principals of large mercantile houses are utterly unable to give personal uttention to such matters as bad debts, aud they have confidential employes to whom they intrust this branch of their business. We think it highly desirable that ouch representatives should not be made ineligible to serve upon committees of inspection. Why not leave the law as at present as to the persons eligible to be elected, but give the Board of Trade and court power to object to the appointment of any person similar to what is proposed in respeot to a trustee P
Sub-clause 2 would practically re-enact the present law. We have ouly to suggest that the word "ordinary" should be inserted between the words " by " aud " resolution " iu the first line.
"Clause 22.—(I.) If a creditor aocepts the office of trustee he shall not vote on any question affecting his remuneration or conduct as such trustee.
"(2.) The vote ot the trustee, or of his partner, solicitor, or clerk, either as creditor or as proxy, for a creditor shall not be reckoned in the majority required for passing any resolution affecting the remuneration or conduct of the trustee.
Tho proposal of sub-clause 1 is, we think, very proper and desirable, but we do not see that sub-clause 2 is quite so necessary looking at the fact that proxies are to be limited to being used at the meeting for which they are given only. And it will be easy to evade the provision by getting proxies in the name of some independent person. Quatrr, also, would the sub-clause as drawn exclude the vote of a clerk to the trustee's solicitor as proxy for a creditor?
Clause 23 provides for the filling up of a vacancy in the office of a trustee by resolution of creditors, that a trustee becoming bankrupt shall vacate his office, and that the official receiver shall act as trustee during any vacancy. This is practically the same as the present law, the official receiver taking the place of the registrar.
Clause 24 relates to the removal of trustees. Sub-clause 1 provides that this may be done by an ordinary resolution of the creditors assembled at a meeting called for the purpose, and a new trustee appointed at the same meeting. Under the Act of 1869 (sectiou 83, subsection 4) this power is given to the creditors by a special resolution only, and we think it very undesirable to alter this and to give the power to a bare majority in value of the creditors at a meeting. If the creditors are to have the power to remove a trustee by an ordinary resolution merely, it will give rise to a capricious exercise of the power, in many cases thus rendering the appointment, when made, a very uncertain one. We have known cases where trustees have been appointed by a small majority at the first meeting, and if the power to remove them had been by an ordinary resolution, we should have had the disappointed minority, in some at least of such cases, trying to do so by beating up creditors who had not proved and voted on the appointment, so as to obtain a bare majoriiy in value, which would be a very great evil. •
Sub-clause 2 is as follows :—
"If the Board of Trade are of opinion that a trustee appointed by the creditors is guilty of misconduct, Ot fails to perform his duties under this Act, the Board may remove hire from his office, but if the creditors, by ordinary resolution, disapprove of his removal, they may appeal against it to the High Court of justice."
Now a power to remove a trustee for misconduct is certainly necessary. This power rests at present with the court, and we more than doubt whether this proposal will be at all an improvement upon the present law. Besides, it appears inconsistent with clause 20, sub-clauses 2 aud 3, which give the Board of Trade power only to object to the appointment of a trustee, it being for the court to decide upon the validity of the objection. There appear to us to be stronger reasons why the Board should not have the power to remove a trustee, than why they should not be able to negative his appointment in the first instance.
Clause 25 provides for the Testing of a bankrupt's property in the trustee when appointed; for the certificate ot his appointment to be conclusive evidence thereof, and to be deemed to be a conveyance or assignment of property which may be registered, enrolled, and recorded accordingly. We have only to call attention to the wording of subclause 3, which provides that "a certificate of the Board of Trade or court that a person has been appointed trustee or receiver shall be conclusive evidence of the appointment." Clause 20, sub-clause 2, proposes that the certificate of a trustee's appointment shall be given by the Board of Trade; then why introduce the words "or court"? Are they intended to apply to the appointment of receivers only? If so, they are certainly not so limited in application in the way they appear iu the clause.
Clause 26 relates to costs. Sub-clause 1 ia as follows :—
"(1.) Where a trustee or receiver or manager receives remuneration for his services, no payments shall be allowed in bis accounts in respect of the performance of the ordinary duties which are required by statute or rules to be performed by the trustee or receiver or manager."
We suppose the intention of this is that the remuneration to be allowed is to cover all the trustee's clerk's time, and also that class of work which some trustees are iu the habit of allowing their solicitors to do, such as sending out notices convening meetings ot creditors, &c. Beference is made in the margin to section 29 of the Act of 1869. That providea that a trustee shall not employ a solicitor without the assent of the committee. This provision is in addition to that section, so that even if the committee authorize the employment of a solicitor, the trustee U not to employ him to do the ordinary work of the trustee at the npense of the estate. This is a very reasonable suggestion. Sub-clause 2 provides for the taxation of all costs of "solicitors, receivers, managers, accountants, auctioneers, brokers, and other persons not being trustees." Sub-clause 3 is entirely new, and runs thus:—
"(3.) A trustee shall, a sufficient time before declaring a dividend, request bii solicitor to deliver his bill of costs to the taxing officer for taxation, an d if the solicitor fails without sufficient cause to do so within seven days after reoeipt of the request, the trustee shall deolare and distribute the dividend without regard to any claim by the solicitor, and thereupon any such claim shall be forfeited as well against the trustee personally as against the estate."
We think it would be an improvement if the words "without sufficient cause" in line 8 were omitted, and the words "or within such further time as the trustee or the court shall allow" inserted after the word
"request" in line 4. As at present drawn a trustee may not be able to judge whether a solicitor has " sufficient cause " for not delivering his bill ot costs within the time specified, and he might divide the estnte without providing for such costs, and then find that the court took a different view of the matter from his. We think, further, that the provision ought to be extended to any solicitor or other person whose costs may be payable out of the estate.
Clause 27 is iu place of section 41 of the present Act, aud relates to the declaration of dividend. It is as follows :—
"27.—The trustee shall render his first account to the committee of inspection, or, if there is no tuch committee, to the Board of Trade, and declare the first dividend, if any, within four months after the conclusion of the first meeting of creditors, unlets he sati-fie* the committee or Board that there is sufficient reason for postponing the declaration to a later date."
A comparison of this clause with section 41 of the present Act will show that a considerable alteration from the present procedure is proposed, and tve think that the clause is a decided improvement upon that section. The provision in the section for summoning meetings of creditors if a dividend is not declared within six months has become in practice almost, if not quite, a dead letter, and to us it appears a useless expense and may well be abolished. We have only to call attention to the words !n tho chuise, " unless he satisfies the committee or Board that there ia sufficient reason," &c. We presume that the intention is that the Board of Trade are only to be satisfied in case there is no committee of inspection. If so, then we would suggest the insertion of the words, "if there is no such committee," after the word "or " in a parenthesis. As drawn it would appear as though the Board of Trade might be appealed to in case the committee were not satisfied, but the former part of the clause would somewhat negative such an interpretation. Whichever is iu'.ended (and either course, would, to our mind, be feasible) ought to be more clearly expressed. This betrays a little carelessness on the part of the draftsman of the Bill which appears also in other clauses which we have alroady pointed out—viz., clause 13, sub-clauses 3 and 4; clause 20, sub-clause 11; and clause 25, sub-clause 3.
Clauses 28 to 32 are comprehended under the heading " Receipts, Pay. ments, Accounts, Audit." These are somewhat lengthy and would take up too much space to print at length. The following may be taken as a general outline of them :—Clause 28.—(1.) Every trustee aud receiver shall pay all money received by him into the Bank of England to the credit of the Paymaster-General. (2.) If he retains more than £50 for more than ten days he shall pay interest on the excess "at the rate of £20 per centum per annum, and shall, unless he explains the retentiou to the satisfaction of the Board of Trade, have no claim for remuneration, and may be dismissed from his office by the Board of Trade on the application of any creditor or of the Comptroller in Bankruptcy, and shall be liable to pay any expenses occasioned by reason of his default." (3.) Provides for payment out by the PaymasterGeneral of moneys required for the purposes of the estate. (4.) Provides for the keeping of a separate account for each estite by the Paymaster. Geueral, and for his furnishing the trustee or receiver with copies of entries, &c. Clause 29 provides for the investment of funds belonging to bankrupts' estates to the credit of the Paymaster. General in Govern, ment securities, and (sub-clause 2) "the income of the investments shall from time to time be received by the Paymaster-General, and by him paid into the Exchequer, and carried to the Consolidated Fund"; (3.) For the realization of such securities "when required'to answer any demands in respect of bankrupts' estates" ; and (4.) "A separate account shall be kept of the amount derived from the income of any investments made under this section, and regard shall be had thereto in fixing the fees payable in respect of bankruptcy proceedings." Clause 30 provides— (1.) That every trustee and receiver shall, once every six months, or more frequently if so required, forward to the comptroller au account of his receipts and payments verified by affidavit, and in default shall be guilty of contempt of court; (2.) For the audit of such accounts by the comptroller; and (3.) That such accounts shall ba filed and kept by the comptroller and Bhall be open to inspection. Clause 31 requires— (1.) Every trustee and receiver within ten days from the 30th of June aud the 31st of December in each year to file with the comptroller "a list of all balances belonging to the various estates of which he is trustee or receiver, and shall at the same time deposit and leave with the comptroller the pass-bonk or pass-books verifying the balauces," aud also requires the payment forthwith of such balances "outstanding iu the hands or uuder the control of the trustee or receiver" into the Bank of England to the credit of the Paymaster-General ; aud (2.) "If a trustee or receiver fails so to file any such list, or deposit any such pass-book, the Board of Trade may, by order, remove him from the office of trustee or receiver of any or all of the estates uuder his control." Clause 32 relates to the release of a trustee after payment of a final dividend or removal from his office. He is then to apply to the comptroller for a report on his accouuts, which the comptroller is to furnish "on the trustee complying with all his requirements" ; (2.) The trustee is thereupon to apply to the Board of Trade for an order of release, and to "send to each creditor who has proved, with notice of the application, a copy of the comptroller's report"; (3.) The Board is to take into consideration the comptroller's report and any objection to tho release by auy creditor or person interested, and shall either grant or withhold the release subject to an appeal to the High Court of Justice; (4.) Empowers the court to make an order "charging the trustee with the consequences of any act or default he may have done or made contrary to his duty," and (5.) An order of release is to discbarge a trustee from all liability for any act done or default made by him, "but any such order may be revoked on proof that it was obtained by fraud."
The first point to which we would call attention in these clauses is the provision that all moneys are to be paid into the Bank of England to the credit of the Paymaster-General. Why should not the creditors have power to appoint their own bank, if they choose, as at present? By so doing they retain for the estate the benefit of any interest which the money may make whilst in the bank, but this provision would deprive them of such benefit for the good of the Consolidated Fund. It is an indirect mode of raiding a revenue at the expense of bankrupts' estates. Then what is the object of the words, "the pass-book or pass-books verifying the balances," if a trustee is only to pay into the Bank of England as proposed? In such case how can he be furnished with a passbook?
With regard to the audit of accounts by the comptroller, without underrating the value of such audits, but on the contrary strongly approving thereof, we would suggest that it would be a much more satisfactory system if local audits of such '.accounts were established. It is very certain that with the proposal that all trustees' accounts shall be audited by the comptroller an enormous increase in his staff will be required; and why should not auditors from his department or from the Board of Trade visit the various districts periodically and require trustees to wait upon them with their accounts on certain daysf We feel sure that this would insure a much more correct and satisfactory audit.
In clause 28, sub-clause 2, and clause 32, we are strongly of opinion that the substitution of the Board of Trade for the court will not be an improvement. Our remarks upon clause 24, sub-ciause 2, will apply also to sub-clause 2 of clause 28, whilst with regard to clause 32, we cannot gather therefrom or from any other clause in the Bill where it is proposed that the Board of Trade shall sit to hear applications by trustees for their release. If it is intended that it shall all be done by correspondence, we think it will be anything but satisfactory. Then, again, under sub-clause 3 of that clause, is a trustee's conduct to be adjudicated upon behind his back, upon representations made by creditors, without bis having an opportunity of answering them? We presume not, but certainly the clause as drawn is delightfully vague upon the point.
THE CONVEYANCING ACT.
The Conveyancing And Law Of Pripbrty Act, 1881, And Thb Vendor And Purchaser Act, 1874, With Notes; And Forms And Precedents Adapted For Use Under The Acts; Also The Solicitors' RemuneraTion Act, 1881. By Edward Parker Wolstenholmb, Barrister-atLaw, one of the Conveyancing Counsel of the Court; and Richard Ottoway Turner, Barrister-at-Law. Wm. Clowes & Sons (Limited).
We take an early opportunity to review a work of which the issue has been expected by the profession with very great interest. The estimate which the reader will form of the merits of the notes will probably depend upon his view of the easiness or difficulty of the Act with which they are chiefly concerned. If he thinks that the Conveyancing Act is a simple, lucid, straightforward composition, such as "he who runs may read" without either baiting or feeling puzzled, he will form a high opinion of the discretion of the learned editors, whose notes are not numerous and are many of them very short. But the reader who feels doubts and difficulties will receive little help from a work which seems to have been constructed upon the hypothesis that the Act shines by its own light; and that doubts are absurd, not to say impious. It is very natural that the learned editors should be loath to admit that the Act needs a perpetual series of explanatory ukases in order to make its meaning clear. Still we think that, putting out of the question our own humble efforts, the difficulties which have been pointed out by other editors of the Act are quite numerous and important enough to call for some explanation. It appears, however, that for the elucidation of doubtful points not noticed in the present book the reader is to seek information elsewhere. "The reader," say the learned editors, "is referred to the very useful and carefully written work of Messrs. Aubrey St. John Clerke and Thomas Brett on the Conveyancing Act, containing . . . explanations of the effect and meaning of various sections. On a few points it will be found that opinions differ."
It is superfluous to say of a book commended by such distinguished authorship, that it contains many valuable observations. That it also contains not a few observations (some of them will be presently noticed) of which the value is much less obvious, is a muoh more surprising circumstance. We think that one of the most useful parts of the book is the general summary, with which it commences, of the changes effected
(or aimed at) by the Vendor and Purchasor Act, 1874, combined with certain parts of the Conveyancing Act. This gives clearly and in a short compass the alterations intended to be effected. We need hardly say, however, that we do not advise draftsmen to take for granted all the statements in this summary.
In reading the notes, our attention was arrested by a remarkable feat of exegesis contained in the comment upon section 65. The reader may remember that we, in common with others, have inferred from tlie words of tho Act, "the freeholder, or other person entitled in reversion expectant on the term," that the section contemplates reversions other than freehold, aud therefore that sub-terms, as distinguished from terms, are within its scope. We further inferred that a freeholder who should reserve a substantial rent upou a long term, in order to prevent its enlargement into a fee by virtue of section 65, might find his intention defeated if hia tenant should grant a long sub-term taking a fine and reserving no rent. The passage (p. 85) in which the learned editors deal with this manifest oversight in the Act, is a curious study. They begin by much more than hal f admitting the inference; but contend that the rights of the freeholder, "such as they might be" (why this depreciatory phrase? they might include a rack-rent, and be of much the same value as the fee itself), would be preserved under sub-section 4. For this opinion thsy give no reasons; and no oue who reads sub-section 4 can fail to see that, although the courts may perhaps screw the required meaning out of it, its words cannot have beeu intended to serve a purpose for which they are so illadapted. Finally, a most heroio effort is made to withdraw sub-terms altogether from the section, which, say the editors [italics here and el*e|*here are our own], "seems to apply only to a term immediately under the fee, the expression 'other person entitled' meaning 'other person entitled in remainder or reversion after the freeholder.'" But "the expression" used by the Act is not barely "other person entitled:" it is "other person entitled in reversion expectant on the term." Shall we gravely be told that this means, "other person entitled in remainder or reversion expectant on the determination of the estate of the freeholder aforesaid"? This is what our authors seem to say; for we presume that their phrase, "after tho freeholder," means, " after the determination of the freeholder's estate."
Another interpretation to be found in the same note seems also to have been arrived at by the simple process of omitting some of tho Acts most significant words. "The power," say the learned editors, "to convert into a fee is given to 'any person beneficially entitled' 'to possession' (see definition of 'possession,' s. 2 (Hi.), ante). Thus a tenant for life, legal or equitable, and whether the land is 1 subject to any incumbrance or not, can effect the conversion." But some words have been here omitted which we can by no means consent to overlook. The words of the Act are, "any person beneficially entitled in right of the term, .... to possession," &o. If the words in italics have no meaning whatever (as our authors, who omit them in their comment, seem to think), it is a strange thing that they should have been placed in the Aot. If they have any meaning, they seem to exclude the right of a mere equitable tenant for life; who is entitled, not in right of the term, but in right of the trust. The phrase is a well-known and common one: we say, "in right of the Crown," "in right of the Duchy of Lancaster," &c, in precisely the sense which our opinion would assign both to the phrase "in right of the term " and to the phraso "in right of the trust." This is a question of practical importance; for we have no confident expectation that the oourti will endorse the opinion of our learned editors.
The meaning of section 17, which aims at restricting the consolidation of mortgages, has been keenly discussed in our columns; and we naturally looked to the learned editors for a solution of every difficulty. But the serious questions raised by the peculiar wording of the section— for example, the meaning of the phrase, " the mortgage deeds," in subsection (2), and of the phrase, "the mortgages," in sub-section (3)—are evaded, or rather, thrust aside by mere dogmatism. "He" (i.e., the mortgagor) "is put in the same position as if he were another person making the mortgage, consequently the surplus proceeds of a sale, . . . under one security cannot be applied to make good the deficiency of the other security" (p. 43). Not to cavil at words (though the words in italics might present some difficulty to a metaphysician), we must remurk that we can find nothing in the section about the identity of the mortgagor; and it the learned editors think that their proposition follows by necessary logical inference, they would have done well to show the steps by which it is reached. To us it seems to require a great deal of demonstration.
The note at p. 83 on section 63, dealing with the " all-the-estate clause," does not seem very satisfactory. "The section," say the learned editors, "does not say that every conveyance shall be deemed to contain this clause, which might be inconsistent with the terms of conveyance, as the word 'conveyance' includes 'lease.'" Tho words of the Act are, "Every conveyance shall . . . be effectual to pass all the estate," &c. It seems, then, that there is an important difference between a conveyance which is "deemed to contain" the "all-theestate" clause, and a conveyance which "is effectual to pass all the estate." The only difference between them visible to our eyes, is one which is as far as possible from being favourable to our learned editors, The second expression seems to us to be a good deal stronger than the fir»t; so that upon their own interpretation, the section seem? to be more dangerous than it would have been if it had been "deemed to contain" the " all-the-estate" clause. We do not, on the whole, doubt that the courts will contrive to extricate themselves from this difficulty. But we more than doubt if they will get any help from the suggestion of the learned editors, that "the premises would be controlled by the habendum: Co. Lit. 183a." We have refuted that proposition once before in our columns, vol. 26, p. 23; and we happen to know that our opinion is shared by a practitioner of the highest reputation for profound and accurate knowledge of this branch of the law. We may also add that our doctrine is not far to seek; for it may be found in Davidsou's Precedents, volume 1, 4th edition, p. 102: a fact of which we were not aware when we penned the refutation aforesaid.
The obscurity of many passages in the Act is curiously illustrated in the notes by the strange confidence with which any inference is drawn which happens to suit the wishes of the commentator. One example of this has been already mentioned. Another occurs at p. 60, in a note upon section 30, which enacts that trust estates shall, upon the death of a sole trustee, devolve to his personal representatives. Hereupon we have the following note :—" If a testator wishes that that his trust estates shonld go to particular persons, ho can appoint them executors for that special purpose." The words of the Act by no means obviously warrant this inference. Because a freehold estate is, under certaiu circumstances, vested in the executor by force of the statute, it does not follow that the freehold is so completely impressed with the quality of personalty as to make the peculiar machinery of special executors applicable to its devolution.
We observe among the Addenda el corrigenda, at p. xxiv., a note referring to that passage in section 65 of the Act, which speaks of rent reserved on a lease as having " become barred by lapte of time," which we venture to think owes its origin to certain comments made by us a fortnight before the publication of this edition. "Though the Statute of Limitations does not apply to rent reserved on a lease, . . . yet it is conceived that a release of the rent would be presumed from non-payment dnring a long period." We did not expect that this lame explanation of an inept phrase in the Act would be caught at and paraded by these learned authors.
Bcllin And Leake's Precedents Op Pleading.—Part I. Fourth Edition. Revised and adaptod to the Present Practice of the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice. By Thomas J. Bullen, Esq., Special Pleader, and Cyril Dodd, Esq., Barrister-at-Law. Stevens & Sons.
This purports to be the fourth edition of the well-known work on Pleading by Messrs. Bullen and I,cake, but it may be more correctly described as a book of new precedent? of pleading by other authors, which works up in the new precedents and the notes thereto as much of the old material as could be rendered available. The authors very truly say that the precedents cannot be of the same advantage to the pleader under the present system as precedents were under the former system. This is most undoubtedly true. The book comes into the world at a gloomy and doubtful season eo far as the fortunes of such a work are concerned. The last suggestions in the way of law reform point to the abolition of pleadings to a very great extent, and if these suggestions are carried into effect it may be that the utility of precedents of pleading will be still further curtailed. Still, even then, pleadings in certain coses will be necessary, and we cannot but think that a work of this nature must, in any event, be useful.
Precedents eveu under the old system could rarely be adopted verbatim, and under the new system pleadings must be still more in the nature of original compositions, but precedents are still useful as indicating the linea on which pleadings should be framed, and the mode in which difficulties of expression and arrangement that occur to the pleader in the various classes of cases with which he has to deal, may be met. We suppose that few practical persons who have since the Judicature Acts been called upon to frame pleadings have not first in each particular case naturally turned to the old form of pleading in Bullen and Leake, and considered how far it was available in a changed form to the new system. The old form often gives, as it were, the skeleton which, uuder the new system, is to be clothed with flesh; and just as no man can be a good painter without a knowledge of anatomy, so we doubt whether any person can be a good pleader under the new system without some study of the old forms. The owner of this book has the advantage of having that process which everyone naturally went through for himself, gone through for him by a gentleman who, having largely assisted in the production of the last edition of the former work, is, presumably, paiticularly well qualified for the purpose.
It is a bold thing at the present day to put forward a pleading as a precedent. The whole matter is now so much at large, and, with great respect to them, some judges have talked so very unpractically about the mode in which pleadings should be framed, that it is very difficult to say now what is good pleading and what is not. The idea of some
judges is that a pleading should be nearly, if not quite, as particular a? a special case. We should like to make those judges go back to the junior bar for a short time and undertake a large pleading business. Every pleader knows how difficult, or practically impossible, it is to secure that degree of particularity at an early stage of a case, and how difficult it is iu practice to frame pleadings so as to avoid objectionable generality ou the one hand, and on the other, particularity which might prove fatal at a later stage.
It is not easy to estimate the value of a work like the present until it has been tested by use. It is impossible for a reviewer to read it through for the purposes of a review. So far as we can judge from a necessarily somewhat cursory observation, the work seems very well done. One of the most valuable features of the old work was the collocation with the forms on each topic of notes containing the decisions on a great number of tho points that most frequently arose in practice in connection with such topic. It is e great advantage to have these notes brought down to the present time by including the cases decided since the last edition; and so eveu if the precedents were of less value than they appear to be, or even of no value, the book would not be valueless. The book has been brought out under circumstances of difficulty, tho period of its appearance being one of transition. As an instance of the difficulty under which its authors have laboured, we would refer to the discussion, on p. 158, with regard to the general averment of performance of conditions precedent. But we, nevertheless, venture to think that the work will be found one of considerable value and usefulness.
Sir,—I am not in the secrets of Mr. Crowder's committee, but, in common with others of your correspondents, I trust we shall find it dealing practically with the conduct of business at judges' chambers.
I observe that, although the "omnibus summons" finds favour with no one except its inventors and the Council of the Incorporated Law Society, the suggestion of allotting causes to partioular masters has been favourably received—by yourself amongst others.
In considering this suggestion it should be remembered that the Queen's Bench masters now discharge duties which in the Chancery Division are distributed amongst registrars, chief clerks, and taxing masters. Not only so, but they act as referees.
I readily agree that the chancery way is preferable iu cases suited for it, but to achieve the desired object the staff of the Queen's Bench Division must be re-arranged—and increased. And here we strike against a solid obstacle to improvement. No doubt, in former times the arrangements of the courts, and theemolumunts of officials, were made with little regard to the publio purse, but in these days a beggarly cheeseparing policy appears to rule which disregards the just claims of the suitors, whose large contribution to the cost of the administration of justice entitles them to the services of the best men iu every grade of the judicial staff. This policy, which nullified the appointment of a Chief Judge iu Bankruptcy for the sake of saving £5,000 a year, and which has reduced the salaries, while adding to tho fatigues, of the Lords Justices, and hurries the judges about the country on additional circuits, without (I believe) any compensation for the additional expenses thus thrown on incomes worth, relatively, much less now than when they were fixed fifty years ago—this miserable policy, I say, will no doubt veto the outlay of a single shilling on such an additiou to the Queen's Bench staff as is clearly needed iu the interest of the suitors.
Then is there any other way of doing it? There are still some offices connected with the courts which are sinecures, or nearly so, but have been refilled when they might have been abolished without detriment to tho public. These may hereafter be suppressed, but we caunot wait for the extinction by natural causes of these vested interests. The only course left open seems to be a small increase on tho fees in actions; and it seems to me that, say, ten shillings so added in the course of an action carried to notice of trial, and five shillings iu other cases, would not bo felt by the suitor. Indeed, it would not really bo au additional burden if the suitor gains in dispatch of his business, for dispatch in most cases means saving of money.
The prescription of the Legal Procedure Committee is, to be sure, simple enough: it is " peel the solicitor." Increaso the trouble, take away the business, cut down the charges. Our council seem to have perused this prescription with a light heart, or with very exemplary meekness. Whether solicitors, as a body, are prepared to be thus cuffed and kicked with similar equanimity, I kuow not. X.
THE ALIENATION OF CROWN LANDS. [To the Editor of the Solicitor)' Journal.] Sir,—Mr. A. R. Fairfield has, in a letter published in your paper of December 24, drawn attention to what he considers an erroneous statement of the law with regard to the alienation of Crown lands in the "Law of Water?," p. 15. He states that the statute 1 Anne, c. 7, which invalidates, except under certain conditions, all grants of Crown lands, has been " wiped off the Statute-Book" by the Statute Law Revision Act, 1867. If ho had consulted the Revision Act itself, and not the chronological table only, he would have found that sections 5—7 of the Act of Anne, which are the only sections relating to the subject, are not repealed, and are, therefore, still in full force where not repugnaut to the later Acts which transfer the management of Crown lauds to the Woods and Forests and Board of Trade. I venture, therefore, to submit that the law is not incorrectly Btated In the work of Mr. Forbes and myself, though I admit that it might have been more clearly expressed; and that Crown lands are still incapable of alienation by Royal grant, and can only be conveyed to a subject by virtue of powers conferred by statute.
The last of the Acts cited by Mr. Fairfield, and which i?, I think, the only one dealing with foreshores expressly, was omitted from the text of p. 15 by an oversight discovered before publication, and is to be found in the Errata et Addenda at the beginning of the work, with directions for its insertion. H. J. W. Coulson.
Brick-court, Temple, Jan. 2.
Sir,—You may thinjc the enclosed advertisement from the Midland Counties' Herald worth notice.
It is curious both from its estimate, from a tenant's point of view, of the benefit of a lease on the present (panic) terms, and for the cool assumption that solicitors as a class (saying nothing of laud agents) are accessible to bribes for robbing their employers.
Arthur L. Heli>s.
[The following is the advertisement referred to:—
"Farm wanted.—To solicitors, land agents, &c.—£50 commission will be paid for negotiating a lease of 200 to 400 acres of good early land, at present value. Farm house must be within two miles of considerable town.—Address, , Birmingham."]
REGISTRATION OF WILLS.
[To the Editor of the Solicitors' Journal."]
Sir,—Having regard to the remarks in Mr. Dart's valuable work on Vendors and Purchasers, in which he questions Lord St. Leonards' statements on the subject, I should be glad if I could ascertain through your columns whether it is or is not the practice of the leading firms to register a probate where the testator had leaseholds only.
T. G. S.
[The reference is, we presume, to 2 Dart's V. & P. 683 (5th ed.).—Ed. S.J.]
At the usual monthly meeting of the directors, held at the hall of the Incorporated Law Society, Chancery-lane, on Thursday, January 5, the following Iving present—viz., Mr. Desborough (chairman), and Messrs. Boodle, Oronin, Desborongh, jun., Hedger, Lucas, Parkin, Sidney Smith, Styan, Nisbet, II. Vallance, and A. B. Carpenter (secretary)—several applications for grants were considered, and the ordinary business was transacted.
LAW STUDENTS' JOURNAL.
MANCHESTER LAW STUDENTS' SOCIETY.
A special meeting of the society was held on Tuesday evening, the 20th nit., at the Law Library, Cross-street, the chair being taken by G. W. Fox, Esq., solicitor, and the vice-chair by O. H. M. Wharton, Esq, barrister-at-law. A 1 ecture was delivered by Henry Staflurtb, Esq., LL.M., barrister-at-law, on "Easements." The lecturer dealt with the subject in a concise but exhaustive manner, and the lecture was discussed by Mr. Peacock and several honorary members of the society. A vote of thanks to the lecturer and chairman closed the proceedings. Members present, thirty-five.
The Dublin correspondent of the Pall Mall Gazette says it is believed that the Government will not fill up at present the vacancy ou the Irish Bench caused by the death of Mr. Justice O'Brien.
MR. JUSTICE O'BRIEN
Th« Hod. James O'Brieo, senior puisne judge of the Queen's Bench Division in Ireland, died at his residence, St. Stephen's-green, Dublin, on the 29th nit., at the age of seventy-six. Mr. Justice O'Brien was the fourth son of Mr. James O'Brien, of Limerick, and was horn in 1805. He was educated at the Belfast Academy and at Trinity College, Dublin, where he took the usual degrees, and was called to the bar in Ireland in 1830. In 1841 (when only thirty-six rears of age) he became a Queen's Counsel, and in 1848 he was created a serjeant-at-law. He occupied for many years a leading position at the Irish bar, and in 1854 he Wsb elected M.P. for the borough of Limerick in tbe Liberal interest. He held the seat till 1858, when he was appointed a puisne judge of tbe Court of Queen's Benob. Mr. Justice O'Biien bad been twenty-three years ou the bench, and had earned fr himself a reputation as a sound constitutional lawyer. He was very popular in tbe profession, and bis death is lamented by all parties in Ireland.
Mr. John Macdotjoall Gibson has been appointed Substitute Procureur and Deputy Advocate-General for the Colony of Mauritius.
Mr. Charles Spencer Thorn, solioitor, of Worcester, has been appointed a Commissioner to administer Oaths in the Supreme Court of Judicature.
Mr. John Blossbtt Matjle, Q.C., has been sleeted Treasurer of the Inner Temple for the ensuing year.
Mr. Thomas Matnaud How, solicitor, of Shrewsbury, has been appointed Clerk to the newly formed Shrewsbury School Board. Mr. How was admitted
a solicitor in 1846.
Mr. Samuel Prentice, Q.C., has been elected Treasurer of the Middle Temple for the ensuing year.
Mr. Arthur Brandreth, banister, has been appointed Judge of the Chief Court of the Punjmb. Mr. Brandreth was called to the bar at Linooln's-inn in Trinity Term, 1868.
Mr. John Peter De Gex, Q.C., has been elected Treasurer of Lincoln's-ina for the ensuing year.
Mr. Sidnby Hacker, solicitor, of Totneg and Newton Abbott, has been
appointed Deputy-Coroner for the Tomes District of Devonshire. Mr. Hacker was admitted a solicitor in 1875. He is in partnership with Mr. Henry/ Michelmore, clerk of the peace for Devonshire.
Mr. Alexander Smith Kinnear, LL.D., Q.C., Dean of the Faculty of Advocates at Edinburgh, has been appointed a Judge of the Court of Session in Scotland, in succession to the late Lord Curriehill.
Mr. Augustine Edwin Tower, solicitor, of 90, Lower Thames-street, E.C., has been appointed a Commissioner to administer Oaths in the Supreme Court of Judicature.
PARTNERSHIPS DISSOLVED AND CHANGED.
Charles James Daintrkt, Frederick Hickson, aud Frederick Parish solicitors, 1, Great Winchester-street, London, at Petworth and Pulborough, Sussex, and at Erith and Dariford, Kent (Daintrey, Hickson, & Parish, and, Parish, Daintny, & HickaoD). So far as regards the said Frederick Parish. Dec. 31. [GaieUe, Dec. 30, 1881.]
Messrs. U. Kimber&co., solicitors, of 79, Lombard-street, E.C., have taken into partnership Mr. William Wallwotth Elliott. The style of the firm remains as heretofore.
Charles Jambs Hunter and William James Curtis, solicitors, 13, Halford-street, Leicester (Hunter * Curtis). Deo. 31. The said William James Curtis will in future practise at 13, Halford-street, Leicester, aforesn'd on his own separate account.
Robert Richardson and Arthur Morris, solicitors, Bradford, (Richardson & Morris). Nov. 80. Robert Richardson will continue to practise at the Swan-arcade, and Arthur Morris will practise at 1, New Ivegate, Marketstreet, Bradford.
James Martin Rutter and James Finnev, solicitors, Bolton. Dec. 30. William Mosklev Tatler and John Ward, solicitors (T.yler & Ward), No. 27, Great James-street, Bedford-row. Dec. 81.
[Gazelle, Jan. 3, 1882.]
WINDING-UP NOTICES. Joint Stock Companibs. Limited in Ckascmy. WiTKKitirsKJL Pisa, Pbomenvde, Gab, And Gek&bal Ikpsovkmkvt Compaht, Limited.
—Petition for winding up, presented Dec 28, directed to be board before Hall, V.C.j on Jan 13. Bell and Co, Bow churchyard, agents for Woodhoune, Kingston-uponHull, solicitor for the petitioner yUcueeUt, Dec. 30.J