HC Deb 15 June 1864 vol 175 cc1811-5

Order for Second Reading read.


said, he rose to move the second reading, of this Bill, the object of which was to remove a grievance arising out of, the existing state of the law. At present, if a person resident in England sued in an English court, or if a person resident in Ireland, sued in; an English court, he was obliged, before he could proceed with his action to give security for costs, because, as he was beyond the jurisdiction of the court n which he brought the action, that court bad no power of en- forcing against him the payment of any costs that might be awarded. That was practically felt to be in many cases a very great grievance, and had been frequently complained, of by the mercantile community. If a person in Liverpool, for instance, had a number of persons indebted to him in Ireland, and desired to take legal proceedings against them to recover the debts, he was obliged first to lodge a sum of money, perhaps £50 in each case, or to find two persons to become answerable for the costs. In fact, it was an anomaly that the inhabitants of one United Kingdom should be thus treated as foreigners in different parts of the same kingdom, and the existing state of the law bad often been made use of in order to defeat a just claim. To remedy this evil he proposed, by the Bill before the House, that when an Englishman sued in Ireland, or au Irishman sued in England, he should be empowered to give, if he so thought fit, is lieu of security for costs, an undertaking under the present Bill. That would be a personal security, but the undertaking would be enforceable, in any court of the United Kingdom. The same Bill was introduced last year. It received the sanction of the late Attorney General for Ireland, and passed, the second reading;. After it had passed the second reading it was proposed to refer it to a. Commission then sitting on the practice and process of the Irish courts, and that Commission recommended that a clause should be introduced in the Bill. That bad been done, but it did not affect the principle of the Bill. He had nothing further to say in respect to his Bill, except that he had made no provision for the case of the Scotch courts. The fact was that ho found such difficulty in understanding the proceedings of those courts, and still greater in comprehending the terms, used in them, he thought it better to relinquish the task altogether of including the Scotch courts in his measure. There would not, however, be any difficulty in introducing clauses affecting Scotland into the measure if it were allowed to go into Committee, and such was the feeling of the House.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Butt.)


said, he thought that the House would hardly be induced to recognize the principle of he Bill, which was to alter, that most salutary provision of the law which gave the courts either in England or Ireland the power of requiring security for costs from a stranger, or one belonging to a different country to that in which he sought to bring his action, so that the defendant, should he obtain a verdict, would hare the means of reimbursing himself the costs to which he was subjected by an unjust and fraudulent action. Nothing could be fairer or more just than the existing law in that respect. Nor was any grievance likely to be inflicted, because if the party bringing the action were a respectable man and had a good case he would find no difficulty in obtaining the necessary security from his solicitor or other friends. But the effect of the Bill would be to enable a man without character or property in one division of the United Kingdom, who brought an action against a man in another division, to say to the person he sued, "You will never get anything from me if I lose the action; therefore, what will you give me to stay proceedings?" The deposit of security for costs was reasonable and fair, and calculated to prevent injustice being done under the form of law, Re had seen a great many eases of bard-ship and injustice arising out of improper and unfounded actions at law; but he thought that such cases would be considerably angmented if the present Bill were allowed to pass into a law. What, then, was the substitute proposed by the present Bill? It was that the gentleman who had no cash, character, or case, might sign an undertaking to pay all such costs as he might be adjudged to pay. The exact value of that undertaking was the worth of the paper on which it was written; and, thinking that the Bill ought not to pass, he should move, as an Amendment, that it be read a second time that day three months.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the Word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—(Mr. Whiteside.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."


said, he concurred with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Dublin University in the propriety of rejecting the Bill. The hon. and learned Gentleman said he brought forward the Bill in the interest of the mercantile community. He (Mr. Vance) was a member of that community, but he had never heard that any complaint bad been made of the present practice; and at the Into meetings of the Chambers of Commerce no mention of it had been made. So far from limiting the principle in the existing provision of the law, which was now sought to be altered, he should be glad to see it extended, for there were many instances of frivolous and vexatious actions being brought, occasioning a large Amount of costs, and inflicting grievous injury on innocent parties.


said, that it appeared to him that the Bill would effect an improvement of the law, and the objections which had been urged to it did not alter his opinion on that point. The Bill did not interfere with the law relating to persons residing out of the United Kingdom, but with respect to persons in England and Ireland the effect of the Bill would be very much the same as if one legal jurisdiction extended over the two countries, and he could not help feeling that that was an improvement of the law.


said, he concurred in the opinion that the provision in the Bill was a great improvement on the existing law, but he thought that some power should be given to prevent the institution of frivolous and vexatious actions. That, however, Was a matter which might be taken into consideration when a Bill of the Lord Chancellor's, then before the House of Lords, came down to the Commons.


stated, that his hon. Friend; whose name was on the back of the Bill (Mr. Murray), had been in frequent communication with the Chambers of Commerce of Liverpool and Manchester, and they were in favour of the Bill; and he had himself repeatedly heard from mercantile men resident in England, that the state of the law occasioned great inconvenience. It might be said that it would be no great matter for an English merchant to provide the required security, but it was felt as an annoyance that in such cases the inhabitant of the one country should be treated as a foreigner in the other country, when both those countries formed part of the same United Kingdom, and it was his object to do away with all such distinctions between the two countries.


said, he agreed in the principle of the Bill, which, he thought, might with advantage be male to apply to all the three parts of the United Kingdom.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 99; Noes 64: Majority 35.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 2°, and committed for Wednesday next.