The LORD CHANCELLOR
begged to lay on their Lordships' table a Bill 180 founded on the Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the Courts of Law and Equity, for regulating the ordinary proceedings in the Courts of Common Law. He might observe that the Bill dispensed with a great number of forms heretofore necessary, that it simplified every proceeding, and that it removed altogether the consequences of merely technical objections. It also tended to expedite the course of actions at law, and would entirely prevent those delays which occasionally occurred, owing to the technical nature of the proceedings. He might also mention that this Bill was but the first of several others of a similar character that would be laid before their Lordships during the present Session.
expressed his satisfaction at a measure of so important a nature, and from which so much benefit might be anticipated, being laid before their Lordships at that early period. The Commissioners, on whose Report the Bill was said to be framed, were wise men, and rejected the notion that legal proceedings could be entirely divested of their technical character. Formerly there prevailed a system of optimism with regard to the common law; now there prevailed a system of pessimism. A notion was abroad that a Judge, like a Turkish Cadi, had nothing to do but to call witnesses before him, examine them, and give his opinion. But doubtless a great number of abuses had crept into the administration of the law, which ought to be and which would be removed, and proceedings would become much more expeditious, much more simple, and much more economical than they had been heretofore. There was one matter in which he took a peculiar interest, and he should be glad to hear from his noble Friend whether any steps were intended to be taken in regard to it. He alluded to the question of fees, the abuses of which had been most enormous, and though the evil was not so great in amount as it formerly was, yet it still existed to a certain degree, and was very unequal in its distribution. What he (Lord Campbell) desired was, that there should be one fee imposed early in the cause, which would be abundantly sufficient to defray all expenses, and that all the officers connected with the courts of law should be paid by salaries, and not by fees. It was partly a recommendation of the Commissioners that the officers of the courts should be paid by salaries, and not by fees, and it would give 181 him great satisfaction to hear that a Bill for effecting that recommendation would be brought before Parliament.
The LORD CHANCELLOR
said, his noble and learned Friend would find that the necessary effect of the Bill which he had had the honour to lay upon the table would be to diminish fees to a very great extent, for by it the great length and delay of proceedings would be put an end to, and by that means the fees would be decreased in number. It was also in contemplation still further to diminish the amount of fees by increasing the use of stamps in proceedings; but whether it would be wise to do away with fees altogether, he would not undertake to say. The Bill which he had already alluded to relating to the Court of Chancery annihilated all fees, and put the whole of the officers of the court on salaries. He quite agreed with his noble and learned Friend that fees should not exceed what was necessary for the support of judicial establishments, and as much as possible had been done with the view of reducing fees to that point. He might mention that one of the objects of the Bills to which he had alluded was to transfer all Judges' salaries to the Consolidated Fund. He now begged leave to lay upon the table another Bill for the purpose of doing away with the office of Secretary of Bankruptcy, and also to put an end to the office of secretary formerly attached to the Registrar of the Court of Bankruptcy.
§ EARL FITZWILLIAM
said, that the consequence of the alteration in the payment of the Judges' salaries, mentioned by the Lord Chancellor, would be to add 28,000l. a year to the Consolidated Fund.
was quite certain that even a larger sum than that would never be grudged, either by the people of this country, or by those who represented the people in Parliament. He felt sure that any measure for relieving the suitor, now aggrieved by the complication and delays of proceedings in the Court of Chancery, would meet with general approbation, and that the nation would not be led away by any false notion of economy—that worst possible system of saving where you ought to be liberal, which was usually accompanied by lavish expenses where you ought to be saving. All the old arguments in favour of expensive law had been utterly exploded since the time of Bentham. One of them was, that law ought to be taxed like any other luxury, and that 182 the expenses and delays of the law had a salutary tendency to prevent people from having recourse to it too hastily. But that was a doctrine which he was quite sure his noble Friend (Earl Fitzwilliam) would never sanction by his authority. He begged to ask his noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor whether the Bill which had been introduced by him relating to proceedings in the Courts of Common Law had been submitted to and approved by Lord Denman?
The LORD CHANCELLOR
said, that he felt anxious to lay the Bill on the table at the earliest period of the Session, and as his noble and learned Friend (Lord Denman) had informed him that he proposed shortly to express his opinions on the subject in a pamphlet, he (the Lord Chancellor) did not think it desirable to wait until that pamphlet had appeared before he had brought forward the Bill. He had gone through the whole of the Bill with the assistance of Mr. Willes, to whom the public was already so much indebted. He (the Lord Chancellor) claimed no credit for it, for it was founded entirely on the Report of the Commissioners. No one could be more anxious than he was to have the assistance of the great learning and experience of his noble and learned Friend, but he did not think it expedient to postpone the Bill.
expressed his satisfaction that no delay had taken place in bringing forward the measure.
§ Bill read 1a.