HC Deb 26 February 1864 vol 173 cc1227-30

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 (Commissioners of Inland Revenue not to grant Certificates to Persons herein mentioned, except on their depositing Order from Benchers of King's Inns authorizing the same).


said, he rose to move some Amendments of which he had given notice. The measure would make a material alteration in the law with regard to the parties who were at present entitled to practise in Ireland. As the law stood, an English conveyancer was entitled to practise in that country, but the effect of the Bill would be to prevent any person practising there who was not certificated by the King's decree in Dublin. He thought that no restriction ought to be placed on persons practising the legal profession in Ireland, and that it would be a great advantage if there were but one school of uniform law for the two countries. The effect of his Amendments would be to leave the law as it stood, and to allow an English barrister admitted in England to practise in Ireland. For that purpose he proposed to provide that all persons entitled to practise as conveyancers, special pleaders, draughtsmen in equity, or barristers in England, should be entitled to practise as such respectively in Ireland, and that all persons entitled to practise as conveyancers, special pleaders, draughtsmen in equity, or barristers in Ireland, shall be entitled to practise as such respectively in England. He hoped that the Attorney General for Ireland would agree to his Amendments, otherwise he must trouble the Committee to divide upon them.

Amendment moved to add. At the end of Clause add — "Provided always, That all persons now or hereafter admitted to practise as barristers by one of the said four Inns of Court in England, shall be entitled to practise as barristers in Ireland; and all persons now or hereafter admitted to practise as barristers in Ireland by the said Society of King's Inn at Dublin shall be entitled to practise as barristers in England.


said, he should oppose the hon. and learned Gentleman's Amendments, as they would complicate the simple object of the Bill. That object was to prevent incompetent persons from making deeds and conveyances in Ireland, by requiring certificates of qualification for the work. At present, any one could practise as a conveyancer who took out a licence, costing £6 a year, and it was found that many persons, who were wholly incompetent, took out such licences and practised.


said, he also opposed the Amendments, which opened up too wide a question to be dealt with incidentally in a measure of the kind before the Committee. At present, anybody who paid a tax of £8 was allowed to practise as a conveyancer in Ireland, and the Bill was designed merely to remedy the evils which naturally flowed from such a state of things.


said, that as a member of the English bar, he was in favour of the principle of the Amendment, but he thought it would be better to propose it at a future time.


explained the social mischief which the Bill sought to redress, and objected to the Amendments as crude and premature. The Bars of the two countries ought to he consulted before any proposal was made for their amalgamation. However desirable it might be to assimilate the laws of England and Ireland, or to assimilate the systems of legal education in both, that was not a fitting occasion to discuss so large and important a subject. He regretted to have to oppose the Amendment.


said, he wished to point out that the particular Amendment then before the Committee was limited in its scope. It would merely allow English barristers whose competency was admitted to practise as conveyancers and draughtsmen in Ireland.

Amendment negatived.


moved, to leave out in line 22 the words "at the date of the passing of this Act shall be legally acting," and insert, "on the 11th day of January, 1864, was legally qualified and acting."


said, he should oppose the Amendment. He could only characterize it as ex post facto legislation.


said, he thought the 11th of January, the date fixed for the Bill to come into operation, was too early, seeing that some of these practitioners might have practised in the mean time, and thereby render themselves liable. He suggested that the 11th of February should be substituted.


said, it was necessary to fix some day; and the latest date for taking out the certificate being the 7th of January, he had made the clause to take effect a few days afterwards.


said, in confirmation of the opinion he had expressed, he would refer to a passage in the letter of Mr. Orpen, President of the Incorporated Law Society, which urged that the proper period for the saving clause was the 8th of February.


said, some alarm had been excited in the minds of country gentlemen by the announcements that persons not duly qualified would in future expose themselves to punishment by drawing formal instruments of whatever kind. He had no doubt the right hon. Gentleman would state that the Act was not intended to apply to any agent or bailiff drawing leases or agreements on behalf of holders of land.


said, there ought to be no difficulty about the meaning of the Bill. It was intended simply to apply to persons practising as conveyancers, &c.," for fee and reward," without a proper qualification. It had no reference to persons acting gratuitously.

Clause 2, amended, and agreed to.

Clause 3 (Penalties on Persons acting as Attorneys, &c., unless qualified as herein mentioned).


said, he held that it was monstrous to subject persons to the penalties which it contemplated, and which were wholly without precedent. It was well known that in country districts, remote from proper legal advice, schoolmasters and others filled up bills of sales, and filed processes in the County Courts for trifling sums—6d. or 1s. Was it reasonable to inflict penalties of £20 in such cases?


said, there certainly was no precedent for the enactment in England, but the circumstances of the two countries were very different. A properly qualified Conveyancer or an Attorney was subject to many kinds of restraint and control—these unqualified practitioners to none at all. He saw no hardship in protecting those who obeyed the law, and discouraging those whose operations were against the interests of society.

Clause agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered on Monday next.