§ LORD CHELMSFORD
, having presented Petitions from the Metropolitan and Provincial Law Association, and John Turner, against the Attorneys and Solicitors Bill, said, the presentation of these two petitions was a fitting introduction to the Bill which he was now about to lay upon the table, and to which he hoped their Lordships would give a first reading. It was not his intention to explain its provisions, but only the circumstances under which he thought it proper that it should be introduced. In the course of last year the Incorporated Law Society prepared a bill which was substantially the same as the one he had now the honour to present. The Society was composed of the most eminent solicitors, and from its members gentlemen were selected by the Judges to assist the Masters in the examination of candidates for admission to the roll. It would appear to be most peculiarly their office to propose any amendment of the law affecting the important body to which they belonged. The Bill which they prepared was sent to the different law societies, to many eminent solicitors, and to the learned Judges of the Courts, and it received the sanction of them all. It was also submitted to his noble and learned Friend on the woolsack, then Lord Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench, and not only did it meet with his entire approbation, but his noble and learned Friend introduced it in their Lordships' House. It passed through its different stages, and went down to the House of Commons, but, owing to some objection by the Board of Inland Revenue—which was, however, now entirely removed—the Session came to an end before the Bill had received the Royal Assent. It was intended to propose the same Bill in the present Session; but some delay was necessary to arrange with the Board of Inland Revenue to simplify the machinery for collecting the duty on 2045 certificates. Pending that delay an hon. and learned Member of the other House introduced the Bill to which the petitions referred. It consisted—not of 28, as did the other Bill—but of 13 clauses, 11 of which were selected from the Bill of the Incorporated Law Society, which was sent down to the Commons last Session. The two new clauses were, in his opinion, extremely objectionable. The period of the articles of clerkship was five years, and a person could not be admitted as an attorney unless he had served those five years; but it was proposed in the Bill of the Society to admit gentlemen who had taken degrees at the Universities after a service of three, under articles of five years,—of course subject to the usual examination. One of the new clauses in the Bill petitioned against, proposed to give to persons who had served as clerks for ten years, no matter in what subordinate capacity, the same privilege which was proposed to he given to gentlemen who had taken degrees at the Universities. The other clause was even more objectionable. It was proposed that if the three years' service expired between any of the terms, the person should be entitled to be admitted at the previous term; so that, supposing the three years' service expired on the 31st of October, he would be entitled to be admitted early in the previous June, or after a service of only two years and seven months. He suggested that the second reading of the Bill from the Commons should be deferred until their Lordships' opinion had been ascertained on this Bill, and if that were not acceded to by the noble Lord who had charge of the Bill, he should move as an Amendment that it be read a second time that day six months. The noble and learned Lord concluded by moving the first reading of the Bill proposed by the Incorporated Law Society—"a Bill to amend the Laws relating to Attorneys, Solicitors, Proctors, and Certificated Conveyancers."
§ Bill presented, and read 1a.