HC Deb 16 June 1890 vol 345 cc1003-4
MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S. W.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the following remarks by the Lord Chief Justice in delivering judgment: in the recent case of "Dixon v. Wells":— A practice seems to have risen up of Magistrates' clerks hearing complaints and taking summonses to any Magistrates to be signed, they being ignorant of the case and not knowing whether there is a primâ facie case or not. A looser practice and more likely to lead to injustice I cannot conceive…It may often happen that summonses are issued without any case whatever. I cannot regard a summons so issued in direct defiance of the Act as a summons issued under it. And whether, especially in the interest of poor persons who cannot pay for professional assistance, he will issue a Home Office Circular to Magistrates' clerks drawing their attention to the matter, and to the observations thereupon of the Lord Chief Justice?


I have seen a report of the case in question. I have consulted the best authority within my reach, and I am advised that there is no reason to suppose the law is not well known which makes the issue of a summons an act of judicial discretion, depending on the nature of the information or complaint laid before a Justice, and incapable of being delegated to his clerk or anybody else; and that it would not be desirable to issue any Circular which either limited this discretion or suggested any other rules than those which follow from Jervis's Act.