presented a Bill to explain the Act of the 13 & 14 Vict. c. 61. The noble Lord said that these courts possessed, under the operation of a clause in the Act, as it at present stood, which was termed the optional clause, a power to extend their jurisdiction, not only to cases in which any amount of money, no matter how considerable, was involved, but also to extend that jurisdiction to any kind of cause, no matter whether it related to a question of real or personal estate, provided the parties to the suit were prepared to assent to the exercise of a power so unlimited. Now it was very doubtful whether, in consequence of the manner in which another clause in the Act—he meant the appeal clause—had been framed, parties who bad availed themselves of the power given by the optional clause had the right of appeal; and the consequence of this was that the operation of the optional clause had been very materially crippled. It had not thus led to the very beneficial results which otherwise it was calculated to produce, because parties to an action were unwilling to bring it on for trial in the county courts, in consequence of having no security that any error which might be committed by the judges of those courts in dealing with the question at issue, might be rectified by an appeal to the superior tribunals against the decision at which those judges might have arrived. The Bill which he now submitted to their Lordships had been framed for the purpose of affording a remedy for this state of things, and thus to extend the practical operation of the present law.
§ Bill read 1a.