HL Deb 19 March 1866 vol 182 cc484-5

presented a Petition from Henry Duffield, complaining of imprisonment for damages and costs in certain actions, and praying for relief. The petitioner had been defendant in certain actions for breach of promise of marriage and for seduction, and had been cast in damages and costs: he had subsequently become bankrupt. In consequence of his inability to pay these debts he had been unable to obtain his release under the present Bankruptcy law; and he now complained that under the existing state of the law he was virtually condemned to imprisonment for life.


said, the law had been correctly stated by the petitioner. The Act of the late Lord Chancellor respecting bankruptcy excepted the two cases of breach of promise of marriage and seduction, and consequently there were no means by which one who was in custody for non-payment of costs recovered against him in the case referred to could get out of prison. There was no power of releasing him during the term of his natural life unless the costs were paid. That was, no doubt, a defect in the Act passed by his noble and learned Friend the late Lord Chancellor with respect to insolvents, and he should think it his duty to see whether some alteration could not be made in the law in a case which appeared to involve great hardship, however much the conduct of the guilty individual might deserve to be condemned.