HC Deb 01 September 1848 vol 101 cc753-4

In answer to a question from Mr. ANSTET,


said, that hon. Members who were acquainted with the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas would he satisfied, without any statement from him, that that learned individual would not he neglectful of any duty attached to his high office. He had, however, communicated with the learned Judge on the subject, and received from him the following statement, dated August 30, which he would read to the House. The Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, in a letter addressed to him (the Attorney General) stated— I am much obliged to you for your note and the copy of the petition about to be presented by Mr. Anstey. The only observation which I have to make upon its contents is, that so far as they refer to me, they are founded in error. I am not on the rota for attendance at chambers, nor is it any part of my duty as a Chief Justice to attend. In the arrangement of the judicial duties, that of the routine attendance at chambers has always been performed by the puisne judges; and neither the Chief Justices nor the Lord Chief Baron are in the habit of attending, although, under special circumstances, "and as an accommodation to their brother judges, they may have attended on particular occasions. Previously to the appointment of the three additional judges, in 1832, there was no regular attendance at chambers during the long vacation. In 1838 a resolution was adopted by the judges, that the last newly-appointed judge who had not before performed the duty should be the attending judge in the long vacation. The Chief Justices and the Chief Baron have considered that resolution to refer to the judges charged ordinarily with the duty of attending to chamber business, and have never held it to refer to themselves, or acted upon it. In the long vacation of 1816, following my appointment, I had an intimation from one of the judges that I was expected to attend chambers during that vacation. I disclaimed being subject to any such duty, and declined to attend. Since that time no communication on the subject has been made to me by any of the judges; but upon my return from the circuit last week, I heard from my clerk that it was reported that I was about to attend chambers. I immediately stated that such report was not authorised by me, and that I did not propose to attend; and the notices referred to in the petition have none of them been issued by my direction, or had my sanction. I learn from the Lord Chief Baron that, upon his appointment. Lord Denman and the late Lord Chief Justice Tindal, both intimated to him that it was no part of his duty to attend chambers, pursuant to the resolution of 1838; and the Lord Chancellor has given me permission to authorise you to state to the House, that he considers that it is not my duty to attend upon the present occasion. I received your letter and the petition last night, and also letters from two solicitors; and, learning from them that there were some matters calling for an early judicial interference, I did not think it right to stand upon a question of strict obligation, but came to town this morning and directed immediate notices to be sent to the parties that I would attend at chambers to-morrow at eleven o'clock, and I shall attend accordingly, for a few days, in order that the public may not be inconvenienced while the judges make their arrangements for future attendance during the vacation. He was sure that the House would acknowledge that the Lord Chief Justice had acted most praiseworthily in taking care that the public should not be put to an inconvenience; though that act of kindness on his part must not be construed into any admission that his attendance was obligatory.

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