HL Deb 16 April 1847 vol 91 cc868-9

presented petitions from the Guardian Society for the protection of trade in Dull, signed by the president and vice-presidents; and from similar societies in Liverpool and Preston, stating some grievances attendant upon the present condition of the laws relating to creditor and debtor, and praying for the application of a remedy. His Lordship proceeded to state that the Act passed in 1838, and the two Bills for which he had had the good fortune to obtain the sanction of their Lordships, and of the other House of Parliament in 1844 and 1845, for the abolition of arrest for debt, were all defective in one particular. They gave a power to arrest a debtor who was about to leave the country; but the only mode by which the warrant could be obtained was by application to one of the Judges at Westminster-hall, who might issue a fiat upon the affidavit of the applicant. Now, it was quite certain that the power ought to be lodged in the hands of some authority more generally accessible; and the petitioners prayed that it should be lodged locally in the hands of local judges, for, as the law stood, the applicants would have to come to London to apply to one of the Judges in chambers unless a Judge might happen to be on circuit in the neighbourhood. By the construction of the Act as it stood, after the party had been arrested and held to bail, he might make his affidavit totally, completely denying the whole circumstances on which the creditor's affidavit had been founded, and on which the ne exeat had been issued; and then, as in a case which had occurred, where a debtor in a spunging-house in Chancery-lane had made an affidavit, the Judge allowed another in reply to be put in, and after that again another in rejoinder, and so it might, go on.


was understood to say, that heretofore there would have been great difficulty in finding suitable local hands in which such power could be placed; but now the judges of the new Small Debts Courts, who were persons of great learning and ability, might be entrusted with it.

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