HL Deb 08 April 1869 vol 195 cc339-40

Bill read 3a (according to Order).


proposed some Amendments, the most important of them being one to allow attorneys or attorneys' agents to transact business in Chambers without the intervention of counsel. This had been the practice in England in reference to unopposed motions since 1831, when a Commission reported that the intervention of counsel in such cases was unnecessary; and though the Commission which inquired into the assimilation of the practice and procedure of the Irish to the English Courts did not recommend the adoption of the same system, no plausible reason could be urged against it. A motion which at Westminster cost only 13s. 8d., in the Irish Courts, according to the best of his information, involved an expense of £3 or £4. In 1867, omitting the special cases which were brought before the Judges personally, and in which counsel were engaged, there were 56,666 motions, the total cost of which would be £38,772, whereas in Ireland they would have cost £169,998. It was monstrous that suitors in the poorer country should bear so much heavier burden, and it was a gross job for the sake of junior counsel to keep up these fees. He hoped the Government would on re-consideration agree to the Amendment.


said, he could not assent to the clause. The noble Marquess originally proposed to refer these motions to the Masters; but as this course had been resorted to in England only on account of the extreme pressure of work which the Judges had to transact, and, as in Ireland no such pressure existed, he had withdrawn that portion of his Amendment. The Commission must have been perfectly aware of the practice in England on this point, but they had not recommended its extension to Ireland; and he thought the noble Marquess was under some misapprehension as to the expense, for he understood that motions before Judges in Chambers were disposed of as cheaply in Ireland as in this country. No desire had been expressed for the change either by the public or the legal profession, and the Government could not accede to it.


confirmed the statement of his noble Friend that the reference of motions to Masters had not been resorted to in England as being the best system, but solely on account of the Judges being overloaded with business. In Ireland, as he understood, while serving on the Commission, the Judges had not more work than they could perform; and the Commission recommended that instead of three Masters there should be but one, though it subsequently appeared that inconvenience would arise if each of the three Courts had not its own Master. The Government had no objection to one of the noble Marquess's Amendments, which empowered Judges to transact business in Chambers; but he believed they possessed such power already, and if they thought fit they could deal with notices as if they were motions, in the manner which the noble Marquess believed to be the most economical. As to the noble Marquess's proposal that the rules and regulations made by the Judges should be laid before Parliament, it would interpose delay in any fresh arrangements which they might make in order to expedite or economize business; whereas in England the importance of the transactions referred to Masters made it necessary that they should be under proper guidance.


said, he would not press his Amendments, but should be curious to see in how many cases the Judges sitting in Chambers would call attorneys and agents before them. It was a slur on the profession and an injustice to suitors that a barrister on one side should be feed for simply informing the Judge that the parties had agreed to an arbitration, and a barrister on the other side for simply confirming- the statement.

Amendments disagreed to.

Amendments made; Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.