HC Deb 23 March 1885 vol 296 cc214-5

asked Mr. Attorney General, If Her Majesty's Government have taken into their consideration the serious delays in the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice to which attention was called last Session, and which still continues; and, whether they are now prepared to take any measure to secure to suitors a more rapid administration of justice?


It must be recollected that this block in the Court of Chancery is one that has existed certainly ever since the time of Lord Eldon's Chancellorship, and its removal is a work of great difficulty; but some progress has been made, and I am glad of this opportunity of stating how much has been done during the last 12 months, and is now being done, for relieving the pressure of business in the Chancery Division. It is impossible not to recognize the readiness with which the Lord Chief Justice and the Judges of the Queen's Bench Division have taken upon themselves the additional burden of rendering assistance to the Chancery Division. The Chancery Division has been relieved of Bankruptcy business. Until last year Bankruptcy was dealt with by a Chancery Judge; now it is transacted by a Judge of the Queen's Bench Division. The Queen's Bench Judges have taken upon themselves the whole burden of Circuits, and have relieved the Chancery Judges, so that all five Courts and all Chambers of the Chancery Division are open throughout the sittings. Under the provisions of the Judicature Act of last year, a Queen's Bench Judge (Mr. Justice Field) is now sitting as an additional Judge of the Chancery Division, and will, as I am informed, by Easter have finished the list of causes transferred to him (50 in number). At the same time, an order has been made transferring 65 causes from the Chancery to the Queen's Bench Division, which will be heard next sittings along with the other non-jury causes in the Queen's Bench list. Any Chancery cause may now be set down for hearing in its place of origin at the Assizes instead of in London, if the parties, for any reason of expedition or expense, desire it; and if the number of causes so set down is large, special sittings will be arranged to take them. A very considerable part of the arrangements for more expedition in the Chancery Division rests with the Judges themselves of that Division; and an important Committee is now sitting (on which the Chancery Judges are powerfully represented), from which the Lord Chancellor expects material assistance in dealing with the causes of delay and expense. It is impossible to anticipate what their Report may be; but, no doubt, they will make important recommendations with reference to the most important causes of delay.

In reply to Mr. ARTHUR O'CONNOR and Mr. TOMLINSON,


said, that both the taxing-office business and Chamber business were under the direction and control of the Judges themselves, and any question with regard to them would be for the consideration of the Committee to which he had referred.