HL Deb 22 July 1850 vol 113 cc77-80

Bill read 3a, according to order, with, the Amendments.


then moved the in troduction of a clause, the object of which, was to provide that nine of the existing clerks of County Courts who had given up freehold offices to accept their present situations should not be removable.


felt it necessary to object to this proposition. The result of adopting the clause would be that none of these nine gentlemen could be removed from office on the ground of incompetence, misconduct, or insolvency. Such a regulation might lead to great public inconvenience. He hail much rather that a Bill should be brought in to secure them compensation.


reminded the noble and learned Lord that the gentlemen referred to, could not at present be removed for those causes; and it appeared unfair to place them in a worse position than that in which they now stood, merely because the Legisture determined on extending the jurisdiction of the County Courts.


admitted that public inconvenience might result from the adoption of the clause; but, after fully considering the matter, he thought it better to run the risk of that inconvenience than to commit an act of injustice.


was understood to express an opinion, that the clerks ought to hold their offices for the future subject to removal for cause assigned, provided that were not inconsistent with the conditions on which they had accepted their situations.

On Question, that the clause stand part of the Bill,

Their Lordships divided:—Content 19; Not-Content 13: Majority 6.

Clause agreed to.


then proposed an Amendment, the object of which was to give a concurrent jurisdiction to the Superior Courts in actions for sums above 20l. As the Bill now stood, plaintiffs recovering in the Superior Courts sums not exceeding 50l. in actions of contract, over which the County Courts had jurisdiction, unless the Judge presiding at the trial in the Superior Court should certify that the cause of action was one for which a plaint could not have been entered in any County Court, or that it appeared to him that there was a sufficient reason for bringing the action in the Superior Court, could not recover costs. It was not fair to the Judges in; the Superior Courts to throw on them the responsibility of giving or withholding costs in such cases. It was better to establish a fixed ride at once. The alteration now proposed was called for by the great traders of London, Liverpool, and Manchester. The noble and learned Lord concluded by moving the Amendment.


objected to the Amendment. He thought the question of costs ought to be left to the discretion of the Judges, and did not doubt that they would righteously exercise the discretion intrusted to them. There could not be used stronger arguments against the Amendment of the noble and learned Lord, than those which he himself had brought forward in the Committee.


said, that this was the consequence of his having had the candour to state, as every Member of a Select Committee ought to do, the whole of the arguments on either side; and he was surprised at the boldness of the noble Lord in setting himself against the legal authorities on one of the most important changes that had ever taken place in his experience in the jurisprudence of the country.


said, that looking to the advantages of going to the County Court, if that tribunal was attended with all the advantages that some anticipated from it, it must be a strong and powerful motive to induce a party to go to the Superior Court; and if he had such a motive he should be allowed to go there. He did not believe that any attorney would, for the sake of increased costs, advise going to the Superior Court, as he would run the risk of afterwards losing his client. Influenced by the result of long experience, and of many circumstances which it would be difficult for him to explain to their Lordships, he undoubtedly thought the discretion now proposed by his hon. and learned Friend should be left to the party suing.


considered the opinions of two noble and learned Lords of such experience as his noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham), and the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack should have great weight with their Lordships; and he therefore supported the Amendment.


said, that after the statements of the two noble and learned Lords, he felt that he could with propriety vote for the Amendment; and he hoped his noble Friend (Lord Beaumont) would now take the same course.


said, that his objections to the Amendment had not been removed; but, after the opinions which had been expressed, he felt it would be useless to divide the House on the question, although, on the question being put, he should record his opposition by saving "Not-Content."

Motion agreed to.


then proposed a clause, giving a Judge sitting at chambers in the vacations the same power of issuing writs of prohibition as was now possessed by the full courts sitting in banco. The County Courts would sit during the entire year, and great inconvenience would be felt during vacation if the power of issuing writs of prohibition was not given, as proposed, by a single Judge sitting at chambers.

Clause agreed to; Bill passed and sent to the Commons.

House adjourned till To-morrow.