HC Deb 11 July 1893 vol 14 cc1284-5

I beg to ask the Attorney General whether his attention has been called to Clause 4 of the Law (Reform) Bill, as published on page 18 of the last Report of the Manuscripts of the House of Lords, whereby it was provided that every counsel at law who shall receive a fee to attend and plead in any cause at a certain time and place, and shall neglect to do the same accordingly, or shall not return the fee or fees received so timely that his client may if he think fit with the said fee provide him with another counsel shall incur the penalty of £100; whether a fee paid to counsel under the present law is considered merely an honorarium and is not recoverable by a client in the event of counsel's failure to attend the hearing of the case in respect of which such fee is paid him; and whether he will consider the desirability of having the law so altered as to enable the client either to secure the attendance of counsel or recover the fee paid counsel for attendance?

MR. DODD (Essex, Maldon)

May I ask the Solicitor General whether he is aware that the discipline of the Bar in England is maintained by the Inns of Court; and whether he does not think that, instead of what is suggested, the proper remedy would be that the Inns of Court should enforce their jurisdiction?


With reference to the second paragraph I answer in the affirmative. As to the first and third paragraphs, my attention has been called by this question to the paper referred to; but seeing that the proposed measure of reform has hung fire for more than two centuries, there does not appear to be any reason why it should now be revived, or legislation to a similar effect be now proposed. In answer to the question of my hon. and learned Friend, I have to say that there is no doubt that the Inns of Court have effective means of exercising jurisdiction over the members of the Bar in any cases that may arise; but I have never, in my own experience, known any instance in which they have interfered on the subject-matter of this question.


Is it not a fact that counsel constantly receive fees and do not attend to the matter for which they are fee'd?


I certainly am not aware of it. I never knew of it in my experience.


May I ask whether, when such cases occur, the Solicitor General does not think it right that the Inns of Court should interfere and compel restitution?


I cannot answer a question of that kind without knowing the circumstances of the case.