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learned friend in all these points as facts, | fourteen independent Courts of Decision but in the inferences from them they were sitting at the same time. Mr. Cullen totally differed. He would maintain, that had said, in his evidence, that, at the in proportion as the questions of Bank- same time, the same Commission of Bankruptcy were of importance, in the same rupts had four matters under its considerproportion was it necessary to have a Court ation. One was, to choose the assignees, which was presided over, by Judges of one the proof of the debts, one the proof great learning, and in the same proportion of trading, and one he knew not what; but was it necessary to revise, to remodel, and all tending to confound the judgment. to make a radical change in the whole And how were these Commissioners to be system. To use the language of the remunerated? Why, in a most peculiar Committee of 1818, in proportion to the manner, which gave them an interest in importance of the subject, was the neces- damaging and prejudicing the suitor, in sity, that there should be a complete order to pay the Judge. The interests and change in the Courts, and in their prac- duties of these Judges were in direct optice. These Courts of Commissioners, it position to each other. They were paid was well known, were sub-divided into 20s. each, at every meeting, and therefore fourteen, and these lists had not to defend the greater were the number of meetings the them any analogies, with respect to any greater was the pay of the Judge, and the other Courts whatever in this kingdom. greater number of meetings the greater First as to the appointments of the Com- was the delay in the division of the funds, missioners. It was notorious and past all and the greater in every respect were the contradiction, that if the present Lord injuries to the suitors. It was impossible Chancellor should appoint as a Commis- for these gentlemen, in many cases, to ensioner of Bankruptcies, a gentleman of tertain an opinion that was not thwarted only one year's standing at the Bar, no man by their interests. It was the same with could with justice attack that appoint- respect to the solicitors and the mesment; because, as his learned friend had sengers—the interest of all was, to delay justly said, his predecessors, both Whig the division of the funds, the early division and Tory, had done the same thing. of which was the very object of the BankWas it decent to the mercantile people rupt-laws. The Commissioners might be of England, that any young gentleman, all honourable men ; " so are they all of ever so great promise, but as yet of no honourable men;" but that was no reason performance, should sit in judgment upon whatever why they should be placed in a case, or upon a class of cases which such a situation that they could not do were admitted to be of the greatest im- their duty but at the expense of their own portance, both with respect to the very interest. It was too much that such a large sums they involved, and to the diffi- system should be allowed to remain in culties of understanding and deciding opposition to all principles, and in defiance them? This alone was a state of things in of every analogy with other Courts. If a contradiction to the establishment of any gentleman of great talents, industry, and Court which possessed the respect of the acquirements, received his early appointcountry. Another peculiarity in these ment of Commissioner, what was the conCourts was, that they were the only Courts sequence? The very moment at which he now existing of which the Judges could at arrived at any proficiency to perform his the same time be practising Barristers. duty as a Judge, the remuneration of a There had been one example to strengthen Judge for it averaged only 4001. a-year, this, but that very example had led to the became too contemptible for him to attend destruction of the Welsh jurisdictions to the duties of his office, and he would He would now ask, how did the system be found practising in Westminster-hall, work? Fourteen different lists of gentle- or at Lincoln's Inn, to the desertion of his men were all acting independently of each duties in Basinghall-street. This fact was other. In the superior Courts, by means within the knowledge of every man, and it of the conferences of the Judges in the was impossible to deny it. From a jurisHouse of Lords, by means of their being diction so prone to error-from a deposibrought together in Courts of Appeal, a tory of errors like this-it would be conuniformity of decision was within the reach ceded that there ought to be some mode of of every Court. Not so was it with respect readily correcting what it did. Was this to the Commissioners of Bankruptcies, for the case? It was his duty to state, that the only appeal from the Commissioners of of expense. Mr. Penson, Secretary of Bankruptcies was one, of all others, the Bankrupts under Lord Eldon, had afforded most full of delays, the most overloaded a conjecture of the immeasurable, and of with expenses, and more calculated to de- the almost inconceivable expenses, utterly feat all the ends of justice and objects of wasted and thrown away upon those affiappeal, than any other known to the laws. davits, which were tiled for no purpose It was a mere combination of every objec- except that the suitor might have the sation which could exist against the revision tisfaction of knowing that he must have to of a case. He was speaking of the appeal pay 1,0001. or 1,5001. for no purpose upon from the Commissioners of Bankruptcy to earth. Mr. Penson further stated, that in the Court of Chancery. First, was that the bankruptcy of Messrs. Howard and appeal attended with delay? Look at the Gibbs, the affidavits alone amounted to evidence given on the subject. Mr. 1,500 folios, and as eight folios went to Hamilton had said, that he had felt the in-one brief-sheet, there were about 190 convenience to his clients of an appeal to brief-sheets, at 3s. 4d. a sheet, which, with the Court of Chancery, most particularly the expenses of preparing the brief, would when the appeal was from the Bankruptcy amount to 501. ; and as in this case there Court. Before the petition of appeal were five counsel on each side, the solicitcould be heard, the mischief to be provided ors would have to charge this 501, five against was very frequently committed, times over, or 2501. The other side would and past all remedy. Most cases of bank- have the same expense, so that the amount ruptcy required a speedy decision, and yet would be 5001. This afforded one idea in the Bankruptcy Court, in Basinghall- of the length, breadth, and delay of costs, street, the business was worse conducted of a Chancery appeal. In this one than in the most petty Court in the king- case 1,0001. had been spent on the dom; and if the Court in Basinghall-street bare materials for the wordy warfare were absolutely abolished, and a Court Then came the refreshers, so that infinitely like the Insolvent Court were to be estab- more than 1,0001. would be spent; and lished in its stead, it would be a great ad- this was by no means an extraordinary vantage to the public. The object for case. Mr. Penson had said, that in several which the Bankrupt Court was established cases the expenses of the affidavits had was lost. Such had been the evidence of amounted to 1,000 folios. In another Mr. Hamilton, and now let the House cause eight counsel had been employed, hear what had been the evidence of the and each had been heard at great length. Chief Baron upon the subject of the ex- And what did all this end in ?-it ended, penses. The late Lord Chief Baron of as the Lord Chief Baron had informed the the Court of Exchequer, Sir James Alex- House, in an inquiry, where, as Mr. Greig ander, had said, that there was a large ex- very truly said, it ought to have begunpense incurred in the first instance. He had it ended in an issue to try the facts, which taxed a great number of bills, and the rendered all the affidavits useless. He large expense arose principally from the never knew a case where a man had been number of affidavits, which contradicted in the Court of Chancery with any profiteach other as to the facts, and if there was able result, and the case subsequently any doubt as to the facts, the Chancellor went to a Jury, that he did not throw aside sent the case to an issue before a Jury. all his Chancery affidavits, and resort to One of the Commissioners of Bankruptcy, the evidence of other witnesses. The Mr. Greig, had written a pamphlet on the Lord Chancellor, in fact, always said, that subject, from which he would read an ex- where a doubt existed, he should send the tract. Mr. Greig said, that these difficult-point to issue ; and how, he would ask, ies had long been a subject of complaint. could a case be without a doubt, in which The uncertainty of such evidence, the con- there were 1,500 folios of affidavits? This Alicting nature of the affidavits, very often insufficient and costly appeal, then, was rendered a Commission of Bankruptcy a the only correction that existed to the matter of great expense, and the matter proceedings of the worst constituted Court generally at issue was on occasions where in England. Would any man of principle à Jury must decide the facts. This was undertake to say, that in a country priding a costly, a dilatory, and unsatisfactory itself upon its jurisprudence, such a system mode of coming to a decision. Now he could be tolerated for a moment ? and if (Mr. Williams) would come to the subject I his learned friend replied, that Englishmen


had tolerated this, he should then reply, spoke loudly against the existing system, that that was not enough to satisfy any and called imperatively for a radical change honourable mind that such a nuisance in the constitution and administration of ought not to be removed. His hon, and these laws. But this was not all. The learned friend opposite (Sir C. Wetherell) very cause of this Bill, the very ground of who spoke against this Bill, said, that no its being brought before Parliament, was opinion had ever been pronounced in the requisition of a numerous body of favour of the Court now proposed to be bankers and merchants of the City of established by the gentlemen examined London, assembled last spring, complainbefore the Chancery commission. It would ing of the manner in which the Bankruptbe marvellous if they had pronounced such laws were administered, and praying for a an opinion, for the Court had no existence change. It was that requisition which even in embryo until the beginning of this suggested and became the immediate year. If such an opinion had been pro-foundation of the Bill which his noble and nounced, it would have been anticipatively, learned friend introduced into the other prospectively, and prophetically-to bor- House, which had received the sanction row the language of his hon, and learned of that House, and which was now in the

But did his hon. and learned course of discussion before that House. friend mean to say, that the necessity of The necessity for the introduction of some something like it had not long been ac- measure to amend the Bankrupt-laws, knowledged ? In 1718, upwards of a must be obvious to every one after the century ago, there had been a petition repeated and continued complaints which from the city of London, complaining that had been made against the existing laws, the operation of the Bankrupt-laws was from the commencement of the last century such, that the estate of the bankrupt was down to the very day and hour that this consumed in litigation. In 1783, Sir measure was introduced. What did the James Burgess put forth a series of reasons bon. and learned member for Boroughagainst the existing power of the Court of bridge mean by saying to him, or to any Chancery; and in his learned pamphlet, of the supporters of this measure, that it Mr. Basil Montagu had printed a bill for was unnecessary—that it was uncalled for the remedy of the abuses he complained that it had been introduced in mere of, in the same form as Sir James Burgess wantonness of legislation ? Did the hon. drew it. That bill contained a provision for Member mean to say that, in the opinions a permanent Court, and proposed a remedy of commercial men, as well as in the judgfor some of the grievances which suitors ment of the most eininent of those to whom at present sustained in their appeal to the the administration of the existing BankLord Chancellor. Again, in the year 1811 rupt-laws had been intrusted, that change there were petitions from the sister king- was not required ? All that he (Mr. J. dom, from Dublin, Waterford, Cork, Bel. Williams), could do was, to satisfy any fast, and other trading and commercial man that, for more than a century past, places, complaining of the administration the attention of the public had been conof the Bankrupt-laws, and of the manner tinually called to the grievances of the in which the Courts were formed. In present system. He had done that, and consequence of the general complaints laboured to shew, that the present system which were made of the existing law, a was ill-constructed and worked ill, for this bill was introduced into Parliament in the plain and obvious reason,

,-that in proporcourse of the year 1811, but for some tion as the questions of bankruptcy were reason or other, with which he was not of importance, in the same proportion was acquainted, it was not followed up; that it necessary to have a Court which was bill, however, contained a provision for distinguished by Judges of great learning, the establishment of a permanent Court to and in the same proportion was it necesdispose of all legal matters in bankruptcy. sary to revise, to remodel, and to make a Then came the Committee of 1817, before radical change in the whole system. To which the most eminent legal authorities, use the language of the Committee of Sir Samuel Romilly, Cullen, and others, 1818, in proportion to the importance of were examined, and all concurred in the subject, was the necessity that there stating, that nothing could be more ini- should be a complete change in the Courts quitous than the existing mode of admi- and in their practice. The noble Marquis, nistering the Bankrupt-laws. These things the member for Buckinghamshire, said

that he was anxious to see the details of twenty hours after a doubt might have this Bill, in order that he might form a arisen in the minds of any of the Commisjudgment of what their probable effect sioners in the Subdivision Court, the would be. He wished to God the noble opinion of the Judges of the Court of Marquis were present now, impartially to Review might be obtained upon it. Could determine whether the Commissioners any reasonable man doubt the advantages should remain as they were, or whether of such a system of appeal over one which, this plan, or something like it, should be attended with ruinous expenses, also kept substituted. He would allude to those the parties in suspense and doubt, not only points upon which the present Bill got for weeks and months, but for years? The rid of many of the great and long-lived next appeal was to the Lord Chancellor; abuses which had hitherto disgraced this but it would be upon matter of law only; branch of our law. His hon, and learned because the Court of Review, if a doubt friend, however, who he was glad to see or a difficulty arose upon a point of fact, was at that moment resuming his seat, had were empowered to direct an issue, as asserted that the present Bill would beget Mr. Greig wisely said, at first instead of a multiplication of appeals. In the first at last. Then his hon. and learned friend place, said he, there is an appeal from had assumed, but assumed under a mis ibe decision of the one Commissioner to take, that there was to be an appeal from the Subdivision Court. Upon that point, the decision of the Lord Chancellor to the bis hon. and learned friend was mistaken House of Lords. If the parties chose to

- there was no such appeal. The manner take the appeal to the House of Lords at in which that part of the Bill was to ope- once, instead of to the Lord Chancellor, rate was this :--- If the single Commissioner, they would be at liberty to do so; but if whose duties were limited, had any doubt they appealed to the Lord Chancellor, upon his mind upon any point, either of they would not afterwards be at liberty to law or of fact, which might arise before appeal to the House of Lords. At present, him, instead of appealing to the Subdivi- according to the evidence given before the sion Court, he called in the aid of some of Chancery Commission, it appeared that his brother Commissioners, and, with their the number of bankrupts' petitions carried assistance, determined the question at before the Lord Chancellor, did not, on once. Nothing, in his opinion, could be the average, amount to less than 700 a a more judicious or convenient mode of year. Thus, according to the testimony settling preliminary difficulties. Still it of Mr. Lee, a most competent witness, was said, you have no end to appeal, be- was one-third of the time of the Lord cause from the decision, whether of the Chancellor occupied in the disposal of one or of the three Commissioners of the business which did not properly belong to Subdivision Court, you have an appeal to the Court of Chancery. The costs attendthe Court of Review. It was for this that ant upon these 700 appeals to the Lord he praised this Bill, because it substituted Chancellor, according to the sample which a summary mode of proceeding, which he had given, would amount to 700,0001. ; would operate cheaply and quickly, for but suppose they were to take it at onethe long, and tedious, and ruinous system fifth of that sum, and say that the costs which had hitherto prevailed. By one of amounted to 140,0001., which was a modethe provisions of the Bill, the Judges of rate calculation--even then, ought they the Court of Review were empowered to to reject any measure which had for its form rules for the practice of that Court object the cutting away of so odious a and of the Subdivision Court. Now sup- system? If fit and proper Judges were posing one of the rules to be, that the appointed to the Court of Review, he Commissioners singly, or formed into a would venture to say, that the appeals to Subdivision Court, should have a short- the Lord Chancellor would hereafter be band writer to take down all these deci- few indeed. Mr. Hamilton, and Mr. sions, or perhaps take notes of all that Basil Montagu, who had had more pracpassed before them, or, if it be deemed tice before the Commissioners of Bankbetter, that the Commissioner should take rupts than any other man now living -as notes of the evidence adduced before him, well as many other authorities of the in the same manner as the Judge in the highest eminence, all concurred in stating, Superior Courts—what would be the con- that a worse tribunal could not by possisequence? Why, that within four-and- | bility exist than a Court of Commissioners

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of Bankrupts. The late Chief Baron, Sir instances, been exemplified in the cases of
William Alexander, stated in his evidence assignees of bankrupts. Themselves in an
before the Commission, that a Court could insolvent state, they had been unable to
be so constituted to determine matters in resist the temptation of employing the
bankruptcy, as to render an appeal to the funds, which had come into their hands
Lord Chancellor unnecessary. His (Mr. from the bankrupt's estate; but eventually
J. Williams's) object, however, at present failing, the other creditors had lost every-
was, to shew that the appeals would be thing. Therefore, it had been thought,
few, if a proper Court were established to that the best mode of applying sums de-
hear bankrupt cases in the first instance. rived from bankrupt estates, would be to
Upon this point he would quote the evi- compel the official assignee to vest them
dence of a Mr. Harris, a solicitor at immediately in the public funds. More-
Bristol, a man of great respectability, and over, to guard against any danger of loss
in very extensive practice, and who spoke from the insolvency of the assignee, it was
very sensibly upon the subject. Having provided, that he should not be allowed
alluded to the establishment of a Bank- to undertake the duties of the office, un-
rupt Court, he said — My opinion is, less he gave security for the full amount
* that appeals from such a Court would of the sums which might be likely to pass
* only originate where there was a manifest through his hands. So that the danger
* error in the decision of the Judge, or in which now attended the appointment of
* the case of extremely litigious suitors.' assignee was effectually provided for, as
Mr. Harris was then asked, whether he did well as the immediate and beneficial appli-
not think that the parties would be anxious cation of whatever assets might be derived
to go to a higher Court of appeal. He from the estate. He would now say a few
said, “ Not generally, I should think, ex- words upon the pounds, shillings, and
* cept where the suitors are litigious, or the pence part of this Bill, about which the

atiorney employed — as unfortunately, hon. and learned member for Borough-
there are but too many—is of a low, bridge had said so much. Was it really
* pettifogging character. Where respect- so extravagant and profligate a measure

able persons are employed, I do not think as he had described it to be? In the first that there would be many appeals. place, there was, in the Court of Chancery, Such was the evidence of Mr. Harris, and à fund of ominous namema name, byhe perfectly concurred with him in all the the-bye, which it well deserved—the opinions which he had expressed. He Dead Fund, from which, after paying the was satisfied that if the Court of Review Masters in Chancery, the Vice-Chancellor, were established, they should hear no more and the other officers of the Court of of 700 bankrupt petitions being annually Chancery, there remained a clear surplus carried before the Lord Chancellor. There of 27,0001. a-year free, to be disposed of was one other point upon which this Bill in any manner that the Lord Chancellor had his most sincere and hearty concur- might think fit. The whole expense of the rence, knowing by a pretty long experience new establishment, according to the statehow much such a provision was required. ment of the hon. and learned member for He alluded to the appointment of the Boroughbridge, which was somewhat exofficial assignee, whose duty it would be aggerated, would amount to 29,2001. a to secure the property of the baukrupt; year; to meet this expense, the Dead Fund, and, what was more material, to render it if it were necessary, would be applicable, immediately productive, by vesting it in and thus an expense of little more than the public funds. He was well aware that 2,0001. a year would be thrown upon the the last Bankrupt Act provided, under public. But it was proposed to raise a penalties, that the assignee should place sum equal to the whole expenditure of the in the hands of some banker the outstand- Court by a tax upon the suitors, without ing debts of a bankrupt, as he should calling for any portion of the consolidated collect them. It often happened, however, or other funds of the country. Upon a that the assignee, although, to all appear- reasonable and very moderate calculation, ance, a man of substance and of property, the fees paid by the suitors in the new was, in point of fact, in very doubtful and Court would amount to 34,5001. a-year precarious circumstances. It was an old - that was to say, upwards of 4,0001. a and a true adage that a drowning man year beyond the estimated expense of the would catch at a straw. It had, in many Court itself;—so that, in point of fact,

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