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speaking of the country in general. The manor courts do nothing else. • Do not the abuses you have described in the civil bill court arise very much froin the facility with which you can obtain evidence of the service of process, in cases where no service of process has in point of fact taken place ---Very much ; it is the easiest thing in the world to obtain the evidence of the service of an unserved process.
In the event of the civil bill court remaining, would it not be a great improvement if the service of process were to remain in the hands of the officer of the court ? --It would ; but those experiments are also dangerous. Who shall answer for his fidelity; he would have at his disposal this question, who should recover and who should not.
What is the present character of the individuals who are employed as process servers throughout the country - It is considered, upon cross-examination, quite sufficient to establish that a man is a process server, in order to have done with his evidence.
Are there any circumstances which distinguish the effects of the execution of process of the seneschal court, from those which attend the execution of the decrees of the civil bill court ?-Yes ; murders ensue upon it, at least manslaughter; human lives are lost, and that not unfrequently, in executing the decrees; they are executed by the parties who go in a violent way ; injustice has been perpetrated by the decree, which gives a natural tendency to resistance, and each party arms himself as well as he can; a battle actually takes place, and human lives are lost. I have known that. . This relates to civil bill decrees, as well as those of manor courts !--Even upon civil bill decrees those battles are fought; there is, however, something more in the civil bill decree, for the sheriff must sign that decree; and there is an attorney upon it, who, although civil bill attornies do not rank as high as the others, yet he has a character, and will be cautious.
The execution of the decrees of the civil bill court is put in the hands of the party ? It is; the sub-sheriffs frequently sign the warrant in blank; that is a bad practice, condemned of course every where.
Do you mean that the parties insert their own names ?They insert what names they please; they do not insert the names of the plaintiff. The courts of conscience are excessively injurious.
Would not the requiring of juries in civil courts have a tendency to diminish the quantity of litigation ?. Certainly, to diminish perjury, to increase the value of character, and of course to diminish the readiness of men of bad character to swear ; it would have all the advantages of trial by jury, which, to my judgment, are very great.
Would it become impossible to carry on the civil bill suits, in your opinion, by having juries? I think not ; I think that by not allowing actions to be brought for very small sums, and by having regular circuits, six or eight circuits in a year, civil bill circuits, that justice would be brought home to the doors of the poor in Ireland, without bringing litigation and chicanery.
Do you know what are the opinions of the assistant-barristers upon this point of having juries ?-I have spoken to many of them upon it, excellent and intelligent and honourable men; and I find that there is a facility in every body to believe, that he can do by himself, that he does not choose to have assistance ; the opinions of the assistant-barristers are rather against it, they have a power to impanel a jury to try facts, which they never exercise, at least very seldom.
Is it your opinion, that if the business under the civil bill process was conducted with more regularity, and with more certainty as to the administration of justice, than it is at present, that that very circumstance would have a very great tendency to diminish the number of actions ?-I am convinced it would, a very great tendency both upon the clients and the attornies; and that if the attorney's emoluments were allowed to be increased at the will of his client, it would also diminish the number much by taking away his interest to multiply the number.
In point of fact, is not the jurisdiction exercised by the assistant barristers on the Crown side beneficial ; is it not conducted with the greatest order and the greatest regularity ? I think the assistant barrister is decidedly useful in Ireland, on the Crown side.
Martis, 1° die Martii, 1825. LORD VISCOUNT PALMERSTON, IN THE CHAIR.
Daniel O'Connell, Esquire, again called in; and Examined.
ARE you of opinion that sufficient time is allowed by the assistant barrister at the Quarter Sessions, for the business of the Crown court ?--As the Crown business is done at present, I do not think that sufficient time is allowed ; it is not, strictly speaking, the duty of the assistant barrister; he is only one of the magistrates, and his duty being the civil business, he feels, as it appears to me, that he discharges his duty if he does the civil business; and then the criminal business being matter of supererogation, he is anxious to get rid of that as fast as he can; therefore I do not think that sufficient time is given to the criminal business.
Does his attendance upon his professional duties in Dublin, interfere with his duty as assistant barrister in the Crown court ? -Yes, my opinion is that it does; the more an assistant barrister is employed in Dublin, the more efficient he ought to be, the success being evidence, as I conceive, of his efficiency; and therefore the more efficient any man is, the more it is his interest to shorten the time below, and to be in Dublin attending his own business, so that the best workmen are necessarily in the greatest hurry to get rid of the civil business.
Is the assistant barrister by law chairman of the Crown court ? -I take him to be chairman of the Crown court by law, but with a single voice only ; according to my judgment, no casting voice; and I have known him over-ruled by the magistrates; and I never knew him overruled, that he was not improperly overruled; upon the whole, I think the attendance of a barrister at the sessions, calculated to do great good and no harm at all, if he had leisure enough to attend to it.
How is the business conducted in the Crown court generally ? - Very badly in the southern provinces, with which I am acquainted practically; I know nothing of the northern sessions, the province of Ulster, but in the others it is badly conducted; the grand juries are selected from improper persons, low persons; the venders of spirits and beer, find it a profitable trade to be grand jurors, because they can vote against the finding of bills for their customers; the grand jury therefore, in general, is badly constituted, so that of late I have known some assistant barristers make out a good grand jury out of the half-pay officers who happened to be resident in the neighbourhood.
You do not apply that observation to all the southern provinces ?-No; but my opinion is, that in all the southern provinces the grand juries are not well selected; as far as I know they are not; I mean the grand juries at the quarter sessions; I do not of course speak of the grand juries of the assizes; no gentleman, who is in the commission of the peace, can be upon that grand jury at all, for he is part of the court; so that all that class are thrown out of it; and such gentlemen, for there are several who do not condescend to take the commission of the peace, or who do not wish to take it, would feel themselves hurt, as far as my knowledge goes, if the sub-sheriff were to summon them on the session grand jury.
Can you point out any other class but magistrates, who are excluded from those grand juries ?-No; revenue officers are by the statute.
Is it the practice to appoint Catholics?--As far as I know, it is ;. I do not know that in the south any religious distinction is made on the sessions grand juries at all, or if at all, very little; it is certainly not a subject of complaint.
What is your opinion with respect to the appointment of petit juries at sessions ?-It is equally bad, or perhaps worse; the criminal practice at the sessions is to have almost every cause tried with a double aspect; a prosecutor in the one number, as soon as he has given his evidence, goes into the dock, and the prosecuted comes upon the table to prosecute; they send up cross indictments; there is scarcely any doubt that mutual batteries have taken place.
Are there cross indictments in cases of larceny? They scarcely ever try larcenies at the quarter sessions in the south; in the county of Kerry, with which I am best acquainted, I have known but one or two instances of petit larceny tried at sessions."
Are the proceedings of the court conducted with order and regularity?-No, they are not, except when the personal character of the assistant barrister is of a more decisive nature; it depends altogether on the decision of the individual; for example, the gentleman who filled the chair in the county of Limerick, a most respeetable gentleman, Mr. Lloyd, kept his court in great order ; I have known other very valuable men, who have not kept their courts at all in order."
What class of the profession practise in those courts ?-Barristers scarcely at all, except in the county of Cork; there are some barristers who are resident; from the quantity of property in Cork, it forms a kind of exception; I understand there is a little of that in Waterford also, or rather there was; but in Cork, from the quantity of commercial property, and the Recorder of Cork, Mr. Wagget, having qualities to make him an excellent
judge; he is a gentleman of private fortune, who was in a very successful career at the bar, and was qualified to reach the very highest station in it; that gentleman is Recorder of Cork, with a very small salary, which he has repeatedly refused to allow to be increased. In his record court, the trial is by jury, and the pleadings are in his court regularly filed, as regularly as in the courts above; he sits at least once a week to try records, and tries questions of very great magnitude; there is a bar established in Cork by that means; out of Cork, with the single exception of Waterford, I believe there is no local bar; the consequence is, that the sessions business is done altogether by attorneys, and the class of sessions attorneys is not the most respectable; but I should say, that very respectable men also do practise, especially the young men of respectable connexions, and in the commencement of their career, practise in the sessions.
Is it considered discreditable for a respectable attorney to practise in the court of quarter sessions in Ireland ?--It still continues, to a considerable extent, to be so; it was considered quite disreputable, and it was so by reason of some of the leading men of the profession of attorneys, having formed rather a fashionable club in Dublin, in which it was a rule that no man should be admitted, who practised in the sessions court, so that they themselves stigmatized the sessions practitioners; that, however, is diminishing, from the reason I stated, that respectable young men do certainly now practise; the relaxation of the Popery laws has given a better class of attorneys than existed in the counties before.
Are the fees regulated by Act of Parliament ?—The fees of the Civil Bill court are regulated by Act of Parliament. I am ignorant whether the fees of the criminal court are regulated by Act of Parliament or not.
What is your opinion with regard to the effect of those fees, in preventing respectable attorneys practising in those courts ?-I am persuaded that the limited nature of the fees is an evil every where, that prevents respectable attorneys práctising, when they get into general business; and it has a natural tendency to excite attorneys when they do practise, to multiply the number of cases, in order that the number may make up to them emoluments, which ought to be created by a lesser quantity.
Since the stamp duty has been taken off the process, is it not in the power of any man to summon another, and place him under the vexatious circumstances of being called upon to appear in court, without incurring any expense whatsoever?--It is, certainly; he can do it, of course, at a great deal less expense since the stamp duty was taken away; but as long as courts exist for the recovery of small debts, which I beg again to say, as far as my own humble judgment goes, is against that judgment, I think