HC Deb 10 March 1881 vol 259 cc730-3

asked Mr. Attorney General for Ireland, If he would state the date of the death of Mr. Greer, the late county judge of Cavan and Leitrim; the date of the appointment of his successor, Mr. George Waters, Q.C.; the date of the Order in Council altering the periods for the holding courts in Cavan and Leitrim; why such Order in Council was not issued in time to enable all processes to be served in due time before such altered periods; whether, after the promulgation of the Order in Council, processes in equity land cases, and also civil Bills over £20, as well as transfers of licences, were not absolutely excluded from adjudication at the forthcoming sessions; and, whether the grave inconvenience thus caused to suitors in Cavan and Leitrim has arisen from the re-appointment of Mr. Waters to his former post of county judge of Waterford, in addition to that of judge of Cavan and Leitrim; and, what was the date of such re-appointment?


asked Mr. Attorney General for Ireland, Whether the counties of Cavan and Leitrim were united in one county court judgeship in February, 1878; whether the dates for holding quarter sessions, civil bill, and land courts in these counties were duly fixed, pursuant to Statute, last November for the present year; whether ample notice (fixed by Statute at six weeks) of the holding of such courts is not necessary for suitors; whether equity civil bills, land claims, and notices for transfers of publicans' licences require to be served several weeks before the holding of such courts; whether it was in accordance with the construction and intention of "The County Courts Act, 1877," that the dates at which the county court judge of Cavan and Leitrim was bound to hold his courts should be materially altered, in order to enable him to accept an additional temporary appointment; whether anyone connected with the counties of Cavan or Leitrim, except the county court judge, was consulted on the subject; and, whether the suitors in equity cases, land claims, civil bills over £20, and transfers of publicans' licences' claims, who may be precluded by the shortness of the notice from bringing forward their cases at the approaching sessions, will be compelled to wait until the following sessions, or else at greater expense to resort to proceedings in the superior courts?


asked Mr. Attorney General for Ireland, Whether it is true that the Grand Jury of the county Leitrim, now assembled at Assizes, have this day, March 7th, passed a resolution condemning in strongest terms the alteration of the dates for the holding of Quarter Sessions, Civil Bill and Land Courts in the county for the year 1881; whether it is not the fact that all ordinary Civil Bills must be in the hands of the process servers one week before the commencement of Sessions; whether in the Manorhamilton Division of the county the last day for such lodgment is not Tuesday, the 8th instant; whether this alteration of dates was only posted in the county on Friday the 4th instant; and, whether this proceeding gave intending suitors only three days to take the necessary steps to prepare and bring forward their claims?


In replying, Sir, to the hon. Member for the City of Londonderry (Mr. Lewis), I hope I may be permitted also to answer the Questions by the two hon. and gallant Members for the County of Leitrim (Mr. Tottenham and Major O'Beirne), and also a fourth Question, of which my hon. Friend the Member for Downpatrick (Mr. Mulholland) has given Notice for to-morrow. There is no doubt, Sir, that there has been a miscarriage in making the necessary arrangements for holding the Quarter Sessions, Civil Bill, and Land Courts of Cavan and Leitrim. These counties were united in 1878 into one County Court Judgeship; and the dates for holding the Courts in 1881, of which adequate notice is, of course, necessary, were fixed last November. Civil bills, land claims, publicans' notices, and other proceedings in these Courts, require to be served at specified times before the holding of the Courts. Mr. Greer, the late County Court Judge, died on the 23rd of November, 1880; and Mr. Waters, then the Waterford County Court Judge, was appointed in the room of Mr. Greer by an order of December 24. At the same time, he was appointed temporary County Court Judge of Waterford, because Waterford could not for the present be joined to the group of counties with which it is ultimately to be united, and such temporary Judgeship can only be held by another County Judge. It was afterwards found that the dates fixed for holding the Courts of the united counties of Cavan and Leitrim clashed with those for holding the Waterford Courts; and it was also found that, while under the Act of 1877 there was power to vary the Cavan and Leitrim dates, there was no provision under which the Waterford dates could be altered. Under these circumstances, it was considered that an Order in Council should be made changing the dates of the Cavan and Leitrim Courts, and for this purpose the County Court Judge furnished a schedule of the dates to be appended to the Order. The Law Officers, taking for granted the dates thus furnished by the Judge, suited the requirements of the business in his Court, did not, as it seems they ought to have done, critically examine these dates in detail; and thus the Order in Council of the 2nd instant was made to which the hon. Members have called attention. The dates thereby fixed do not allow a sufficient interval for having the business of these Courts properly transacted; and I shall, therefore, recommend that a new Order shall at once be made restoring the dates originally fixed last November. So far as these interfere with the dates fixed for the Waterford County Courts, provision must be made for holding the latter by a substitute. I need not say I regret that this mistake should have occurred; but I trust that all difficulty and inconvenience will be prevented by the course which I have now indicated.