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Gloucestershire, and accepted by one Henry Bishop, for the defendants." It was held that, under this admission, the defendants could not dispute the authority of Bishop to bind them by this acceptance: (Wilkes v. Hopkins and Others, 14 L. J. 225 C.P.) Tindal, C.J., in delivering the opinion of the Court in this case, observed that a defendant undoubtedly may, if he thinks proper, bind himself by the form of his admission more largely than he could be called upon to do, under an ordinary notice to admit; and this we think the defendants have done upon the present occasion; and that it would be giving them an unfair advantage, after an admission in these terms, which imports, in its natural and ordinary sense, that Henry Bishop had authority to accept of them, if they should be allowed at the trial to set up the want of such authority.
method of supporting an objection to the former class, for no man is to be examined to prove his own infamy: (3 Bla. Com.)
But now, by statute 3 & 4 Will. 4, c. 42, the following enactment with respect to the evidence of parties having a certain interest in the cause, has been provided by section 26, which declares that, in order to render the rejection of witnesses on the ground of interest less frequent, it is enacted, that if any witness shall be objected to as incompetent on the ground that the verdict or judgment in the action on which it shall be proposed to examine him, would be admissible in evidence for or against him, such witness shall, nevertheless, be examined; but, in that case, a verdict or judgment in that action, in favour of the party in whose behalf he shall have been examined, shall not be admissible in evidence for him or any one claiming under him; so shall a verdict or judgment against the party, on whose behalf he shall have been examined, be admissible in evidence against him, or any one claiming under him. By sect. 27 it is enacted that the name of every witness objected to as incompetent, on the ground that such verdict or judgment would be admissible in evidence for or against him, shall, at the trial, be indorsed on the record or document on which the trial shall be had, together with the name of the party on whose behalf he was examined by some officer of the Court, at the request of either party, and shall be afterwards entered on the re-record of the judgment; and such indorsement or entry shall be sufficient evidence that such witness was examined, in any subsequent proceeding in which the verdict or judgment shall be offered in evidence.
A paper signed by a deceased steward, charged him with the receipt of a gross sum. In the same box was found an ancient rental, in the same handwriting, but unsigned, containing an account of items which, added together, made up the gross sum with which the deceased steward so debited himself. This was held admissible in evidence: (Musgrove v. Emmerson, 16 L. J. 174 Q. B.) On an interpleader issue, between the plaintiff, the claimant of certain goods, and the execution creditor, the plaintiff claiming the goods under an assignment made 'to him by the debtor as a security for previous advances, an admission of the debt made by the debtor before the assignment, in the absence of the defendant, is not ceivable in evidence by the plaintiff: (Coole v. Braham, 18 L. J. 105 Ex.) It has also been decided that, under the usual notice and order to admit, an objection to the reception in evidence of a deed, because of an interlineation appearing in it, is waived: (Freeman, administratrix v. Steggart, 19 L. J. 18, Q. B.)
In the case of an action against one of the provisional committee-men of a railway company, it has been held, that a previous authority to the agent to contract on his behalf, may be inferred from the subsequent conduct or admissions of the defendant; but, to render him answerable by reason of such admissions, they must appear to have been made from a consciousness of a legal personal liability to the plaintiff in respect of the particular demand, and not merely from a desire, by paying a proportion of the demand, to prevent litigation, or from a misconception of the law as to the liability of provisional committee-men merely as such: (Baily and Another v. Macaulay, 19 L. J. 73, Q. B.)
We have next to consider the law of evidence as it relates to the witnesses who are admitted to give testimony in a suit. All witnesses, of whatever religion or country, that have the use of their reason, are to be received and examined, except such as are infamous, or such as are interested in the event of the cause (3 Bla. Com. 370.) An infamous witness, according to Sir Edward Coke, is one who is attainted of a false verdict, or of a conspiracy at the suit of the king, or convicted of perjury, or of a præmunire, or of forgery upon the statute of 5 Eliz. c. 14, and not upon the statute of 1 Hen. 5, c. 5, or convicted of felony, or by judgment lost his ears, or stood upon the pillory or tumbrell, or been stigmaticus, branded, or the like, whereby they become infamous of some offences, quæ sunt minoris culpæ sunt majories infamiæ: (Co. Litt. 6 b. n. 1.) The same learned authority continues, infidel, or of non sane memory, or not of discretion, or a party interested, or the like. This latter restriction, as we shall presently see, has in certain cases been removed by recent enactments. All other persons besides those excepted, are competent witnesses, though the jury, from other circumstances, will judge of their credibility. Interested witnesses may be examined upon a voir dire, if suspected to be secretly concerned in the event, or their interest may be proved in court, which test is the only
66 'or if the witness be an
By the 6 & 7 Vict. c. 85. after reciting that the inquiry after truth in courts of justice is often obstructed by incapacities created by the present law, and that it is desirable that full information as to the facts in issue, both in criminal and in civil cases, should be laid before the persons who are appointed to decide upon them, and that such persons should exercise their judgment on the credit of the witnesses adduced, and on the truth of their testimony, it is enacted, that no person offered as a witness shall thereafter be excluded by reason of incapacity from crime or interest from giving evidence, either in person or by deposition, according to the prac tice of the Court, on the trial of any issue joined, or of any matter or question, or on any inquiry arising in any suit, action, or proceeding, civil or criminal, in any Court, or before any judge, jury, &c., but that every person so offered may be admitted to give evidence on oath, notwithstanding that such person shall have an interest in the matter in question, or in the event of the trial of any issue, matter, question, or inquiry, or of the suit, action, or proceeding in which he is offered as a witness, and notwithstanding that such person offered as a witness may have been previously convicted of any crime or offence. It is however provided, that this act shall not render competent any party to any suit, action, or preceeding, individually named in the record, or any lessor of the plaintiff, or tenant of premises sought to be recovered in ejectment, or the landlord, or any other person in whose right any defendant in replevin may make cognizance, or any person in whose immediate and individual behalf any action may be brought or defended, either wholly or in part, or the husband or wife of such person respectively. And it is also provided, that this act shall not repeal any provision in a certain act passed in the session of Parliament, holden in the seventh year of the reign of his late Majesty, and in the first year the reign of Her present Majesty, intituled An Act for the Amendment of the Law with respect to Wills. And it is provided, that in Courts of Equity any defendant to any cause pendent in any such Court may be examined as a witness on the behalf of the plaintiff, or of any codefendant in any such cause, saving just exceptions; and
that any interest which such defendant so to be examined may have in the matter, or any of the matters in question in the cause, shall not be deemed a just exception to the testimony of such defendant, but shall only be considered as affecting, or tending to affect, the credit of such defendant as a witness.
By the 8 & 9 Vict. c. 113, after reciting that it is provided by many statutes that various certificates, official and public documents, documents and proceedings of corporations and of joint-stock and other companies, and certified copies of documents, bye-laws, entails in registers, and other books, shall be receivable in evidence of certain particulars in courts of justice, provided they be authenticated in the manner prescribed by such statutes; and reciting that the beneficial effect of these provisions has been found by experience to be greatly diminished by the difficulty of proving that the said documents are genuine, and it is expedient to facilitate their admission in evidence. It was enacted that whenever, by any act, any certificate, official or public document, or document or proceeding of any corporation, or joint-stock or other company, or any certified copy of any document, bye-law, entry in any register, or other proceeding, shall be receivable in evidence of any particular in any court of justice, or before any legal tribunal, or either House of Parliament, or any committee of either House, or in any judicial proceeding, the same shall respectively be admitted in evidence, provided they respectively purport to be sealed or impressed with a stamp, or sealed and signed, or signed alone, as required, or impressed with a stamp and signed, as directed by the respective acts made or thereafter to be made, without any proof of the seal or stamp, where a seal or stamp is necessary, or of the signature, or of the official character of the person appearing to have signed the same, and without any further proof thereof in every case in which the original record could have been received in evidence. And it was also enacted that all courts, judges, justices, masters in chancery, masters of courts, commissioners judicially acting, and other judicial officers, shall henceforth take judicial notice of the signature of any of the equity or common law judges of the Superior Courts at Westminster, provided such signature be attached or appended to any decree, order, certificate, or other judicial or official document. Copies of private acts of Parliament printed by the Queen's printer, and all copies of the journals of either House of Parliament, and of royal proclamations printed by the printer to the Crown, or by the printers of either House of Parliament, are made admissible in evidence thereof by all courts, judges, justices, and others, without any proof being given that such copies were so printed.
It is enacted by stat. 9 & 10 Vict. c. 95 (the County Court Act), s. 83, that on the hearing or trial of any action, or on any other proceeding under that Act, the parties thereto, their wives, and all other persons, may be examined, either on behalf of the plaintiff or defendant, upon oath or solemn affirmation in those cases in which persons are by law allowed to make affirmation, instead of taking an oath, to be administered by the proper officer of the Court.
Such is the effect of the recent enactments relating to the law of evidence. As regards the persons still incapacitated from giving testimony in a cause, we may here notice that no counsel, attorney, or other person intrusted with the secrets of the case by the party himself, shall be compelled, or, perhaps, allowed to give evidence of such conversation, or matters of privacy, as came to his knowledge by virtue of such trust and confidence; but he may be examined as to mere matters of fact, as the execution of a deed, or the like, which might have come to his knowledge without being interested in the cause. Where a statement was made by the plaintiff's attorney
to the defendant's attorney in conversation, during the assizes, with respect to the nature of the claim in the action, such statement not being expressly made for the purpose of being used as evidence, it was held that its was not admissible: (Petch et ux. v. Lyon, 15 L. J. 393, Q. B.)
One witness, if credible, is sufficient evidence to a jury of any single fact, though, undoubtedly, the con currence of two or more corroborates the proof.
With respect to the mode of conducting the examina.... tion of a witness at a trial in Court, and the questions he may be asked, it is beyond our province here to lay down all the principles applicable to this point, which are fully detailed in the various books of practice on this subject, and which may indeed be collected from the general rules here deduced with regard to the law of evidence. We shall, therefore, only select a few of the more important of them, illustrating them by such of the more recent cases as bear expressly on the matter. It is hardly necessary, perhaps, to state that the question put to the witness who is examined during the trial, must be strictly relevant to the matter before the Court. Upon an action of goods supplied for the building of certain cottages, the question was whether the goods were supplied to a builder, afterwards bankrupt, or to the defendant who had employed the builder. The defendant called the builder, who stated that the plaintiff's contract was mader with himself, and that he had received moneys from the defendant in respect of the cottages. It was held that he might also be asked by the defendant which way thes balance was between him and the defendant at the time of the bankruptcy: (Gerish v. Chartier, 14 L. J. 84, Ex.): The rule of public policy, which prevents a witness" being asked such questions as will disclose the informer, if he be a third person, applies equally to questions which will disclose whether or not the witness himself was ther informer. Therefore, in an information by the Attorney General for a breach of the revenue laws, the Court des cided that a witness for the Crown could not be asked. this question-"Did you give the information?" (Attor ney-General v. Briant, 15 L. J. 265, Ex.)
A question occasionally arises, what evidence may be admitted to explain any latent ambiguity in the description given by a witness. In an action on a written con tract for the delivery of "ware, potatoes," it appearing that the term "ware" applied equally to all kinds ofa potatoes, and meant the best or largest of any kind. It was held that evidence to show that a particular sorts called "Regent's wares,' were intended, was inadmissi ble: (Smith v. Jefferies, 15 L. J. 325, Ex.)
In an information against the defendant for using a cistern in the making of malt, without making an entry thereof as required by the act of Parliament, a witness was asked by the defendant's counsel, if he had not stated to one C. that the Excise officers had offered him 207. to say the cistern had been used; the witness having denied the statement, it was held that evidence could not be given to show that he had, in fact, made the statement: (Attorney-General v. Hitchcock, 16 L. J. 259, Ex.) Where a witness is asked if he has made a certain statement which is material to the issue and at variance with other parts of his evidence, and he denies that he has made such statement, evidence may be given to show that he did, in fact, make the statement. Where a witness is examined as to a fact with a view to show that he is biased as to the cause, and he denies the fact, evidence may be offered in contradiction to prove the fact: (Ibid.)
As regards the requisite evidence of the identity of a party, it was recently held by the Court of Common Pleas that it is not necessary to prove strictly the identity of the defendant with a person of the same name, concerning whom a witness gives evidence. The similarity of the names is sufficient to put the defendant to the
proof that he is not the person spoken of: (Hamber v. Roberts, 18 L. J. 250, C. P.)
On the trial of an action of trover for a bill of exchange, it was proved that the defendants, who were bankers, had discounted the bill for a customer for whom they were in the habit of discounting bills, and that the bill had been brought to them by the customer's clerk, who was directed to inquire whether they would discount it, and to state to the defendants the particulars of an arrangement between the holder of the bill and the customer. Neither party called the clerk as a witness. It was held that the jury ought not to have been directed to presume that the clerk delivered the message, but that in the absence of evidence to the contrary, the presumption was that the defendants had bona fide discounted the bill without notice of the circumstances which the clerk had been directed to tell them: (Middleton and others, assignees of Hemingway, a bankrupt, v. Barnett and others, 18 L. J. 433, Ex.) Trover by A. against the assignees of one H. for seizing goods of A. The plaintiff gave evidence that, prior to the bankruptcy, the person in possession, and apparently the owner, had assigned them to C., who had, for a valuable consideration, assigned them to the plaintiff. The plaintiff had put a person in possession of the goods, but C. continued to carry on the business in the house where they were. On the part of the defendants, it was suggested that the transaction was colourable, and that the goods belonged to the bankrupt H. Before any evidence was offered of any connexion between the plaintiff and H., one of the witnesses for the defence was asked, "whether he remembered C. making a claim to the goods after the bankruptcy?" The question was disallowed. It was held that the question ought to have been allowed: (Ford v. Elliott and others, 18 L. J. 447, Ex.) The declarations made by the plaintiff at the time of supplying goods are admissible for him to prove that he then knew of the existence of a dormant partner in the business for which the goods were supplied, and that he was relying on his credit. Entries in the plaintiff's shop books are admissible for the same purpose: (per Jervis, C. J., Silverlock v. Irvin, 17 L. T. 20.)
In a recent case A. & B. appeared in Parliament as the agents for the promoters of a bill; the proceedings resulted in an act being made. It was held that the statements made by A. & B. for the purposes of the bill were admissible against the promoters, without further proof of authority to act for such promoters: (Fishmongers' Company v. Dimsdale, 17 L. T. 7, C. B., per Jervis, C. J.)
(To be continued.)
Watson v. The Ambergate, Nottingham and Boston Railway.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE COUNTY COURTS CHRONICLE.
SIR,-In the report of this case, given in the Times newspaper of the 15th instant, it is stated that " in the course of the argument of the above case, it appeared that the case itself had been drawn by the judge of the County Court, upon which Mr. Justice Patteson observed, that in his opinion the case ought to be drawn by the parties, and only signed by the judge when satisfied that it was correct."
The facts are that the case was drawn by the attorneys for the parties; but, as they could not agree upon all the points, they applied to the judge, who thereupon, with two or three slight alterations, settled and signed the case as required by the 13 & 14 Vict. c. 61, s. 15. I am, Sir, yours, &c.
THOMAS WINTER. Clerk of the County Court at Grantham, from whence this case was sent.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE COUNTY COURTS CHRONICLE.
SIR,-Reading in your last, a letter signed "A Country High Bailiff," and conceiving that such letters are calculated to mislead and misinform, I am sure you will lend your aid in diffusing the truth, in putting the officers in their proper places, at the same time resenting any assumption which may tend to place a superior officer in juxtaposition with an inferior one.
I may not, by the clerks, be considered very complimentary in noticing the remarks as to the nature of their duties. It is pretty evident, to any one conversant with the working of the court, that of the courts into operation. If the bailiffs kept their places on the their duties are of paramount importance in putting the machinery suitor's side of the counter of the clerk's office, they would not be so infatuated with their sagacity, as to think themselves capable of judging what the clerk has to do.
Your correspondent, in showing how the High Bailiffs are underpaid, modestly suggests an hypothesis of a 21. execution at four miles (which, by-the-by, may be considered a minimum case), and says he only gets 38. for it, at the same time knowing he gets 58., generally 98., if all High Bailiff's charge alike. But he does not you what he gets for a 50%. erecution, and, as he may be guilty the following honest figures speak for each instance:— of a suppressio veri, I will tell you what I know to be the case. Let
Levying execution Mileage
For £2. For £50.
Broker's appraisement sixpence in the pound 1 Possession five days, at sixpence in the pound per day, charged up to fifty pounds, right or wrong
If paid at time, or on first day of entry, the total charges would respectively 5s., and 37. 10s.]
Compare the charges in the larger case, with the total poundage for remuneration of clerk and judge for all the stages of the proceedings, including execution, and let us see who are most The poundage on a debt of fifty pounds is— underpaid:
£ s. d. 0 11 8 234 034
What will my Lord Brougham say to those "clever useful officers," who, by such charges as the above, must earn, as a return for his unremitting exertions to obtain for the public cheap law, the odium of inconsistency.
I beg to remind "A Country High Bailiff," that the clerks of County Courts are required to be attorneys, and, for the most part, those appointed are attorneys of considerable standing. I would tell him, also, that before a man can be an attorney he must pay his passport to five years' study, with 120. stamp duty, and at the end of that period, has the test of fitness to undergo before legal official examiners. Having been thus probed, then, and being, therefore, entitled to higher remuneration, I doubt very much whether any of these gentlemen could so easily earn 81. 10s. as those other officers whose qualifications are of a more ordinary nature.
Every farthing the clerk and judge receive has to appear in the different fee books, and has to pass the scrutiny of the treasurer. Not so, with the bailiff. 77. 10s. of the execution, instanced above, appears nowhere, except in the high bailiff's returns, which, although sometimes made, escapes examination, and these charges never are included in the parliamentary return of officers' emoluments required every year by Government. Besides these, are other sources of profit, which appear in no shape whatever. I allude to the affidavits of service of foreign summonses and postages of precess to and from foreign courts. The power is earned by some
attorney, who, in common decency, ought to be the clerk; and, as your correspondent says, "The labourer is worthy of his hire;" he who earns should have, but neither attorney nor clerk gets it, for some friendly attorney swears him gratis, same as attorneys do in return for each other, and thus Mr. Bailiff pockets that which he never earned.
I must sum up this long letter with saying that the contents are founded on my own observations in a particular locality, and I would not impugn the high bailiffs as a body, many of whom I know to be more conscientious than others. I hope you will never be troubled again to compare the duties and profits of the high bailiff with those of the clerk. I am, Sir, &c.,
TO THE EDITOR OF THE COUNTY COURTS CHRONICLE.
SIR,-I observe in an article published in the March number of THE COUNTY Courts CHRONICLE, at page 74, intituled "Cases on Questions of Consideration," that it is said that if a bankrupt, before or after his certificate, by a written memorandum, signed by him. self, or by an agent authorized by him, in writing, promise to pay his former debts, he is liable to be sued on such promise.
It appears to me that the above is wrong. I admit that, under the former bankruptcy statutes the certificate of the bankrupt did not extinguish the debt, but only barred the remedy: (Newton v. Scott, 10 Mees. & W. 475); and the bankrupt, by a written pro. mise, may revive his liability: (9 Jur. 214; 14 Law Jour.; N. S. Exch. 209.) But now, by the Bankruptcy Consolidation Act (12 & 13 Vict. c. 106, s. 204) it is enacted, "that no bankrupt, after his certificate shall have been allowed, shall be liable to pay or satisfy any debt, claim, or demand from which he shall have been discharged by virtue of such certificate, or any part of any such claim or demand upon any contract, promise, or agreement, made after the issuing of the fiat or filing the petition for adjudication of bankruptcy; and if any bankrupt be sued upon any such contract, promise, or agreement, he may plead the general issues and give this act and the special matters in evidence."
As the above act of Parliament may have escaped your notice, and as this is a point of some practical importance to the legal profession, I shall feel obliged by your opinion thereon in your next publication. I am, Sir, yours, &c.,
P. W. L.
SOLICITORS' FEES IN THE COUNTY COURTS.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE COUNTY COURTS CHRONICLE.
SIR, I obtained a verdict in the Westminster County Court this morning for a plaintiff, and on my applying for the fee allowed me by the Act (only 158.), I was informed that it could not be allowed, as I had given no notice to the clerk of the Court previously that I intended to appear for the plaintiff. I stated that I had taken out the plaint, that I had mentioned the fact of my being the plaintiff's attorney when I did so, that I had conducted the whole case, and that my name was in the Law List; but all this had no effect, as the rule, I was also informed, had been made for the benefit and protection of the Profession, but in what way I am really at a loss to understand.
This absurd and arbitrary rule does not exist in any other court in which I have been engaged, as I have always been able to obtain my fee at the hearing, on application to the judge for it.
In conclusion, I would add that this "rule" is only affixed in the room where the plaintiffs and defendants are called previously to entering the court, and where, from the peculiar construction of the Westminster County Court, parties do not think of going until the day upon which their summonses are appointed to be heard. I enclose my card. I am, Sir, yours, &c., Ironmonger-lane, City, 14th May, 1851.
C. I. W.
AGENCY BUSINESS IN THE COUNTY COURTS.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE COUNTY COURTS CHRONICLE.
SIR-I shall feel obliged if you, or any of your readers, will inform me what the practice is in the profession respecting the employment by one solicitor of another, as his agent in the County Court; whether the agent ought to charge full fees for all business done in relation to an action in the County Court, both in and out of Court, or whether it is usual to make the same allowances as in actions at common law, &c., between principal and agent, particularly in a case where the principal himself (an attorney), is the plaintiff in the cause. I think it is important to the profession
ANSWERS OF THE COUNTY COURT JUDGES UPON THE EXAMINATION OF PARTIES; COMMUNICATED TO THE HOME DEPARTMENT BY THE LAW AMENDMENT SOCIETY. (Continued from page 135.)
Circuit No. 29.
Dolomothi, 14th January, 1851. SIR,-In reply to your note, dated 10th December, 1850, requesting, on the part of the Council of the "Society for Promoting the Amendment of the Law," to be informed, whether, in my judgment, the law which enables parties to be examined as witnesses, in the County Courts works well or ill, I beg to state, that in my opinion that law has proved beneficial, and numerous debts justly due have been recovered by means of that measure; at the same time, I cannot conceal from myself that instances of perjury have occurred, but such instances are also to be found arising from the examination of witnesses legally disinterested previous to the period when the 6 & 7 Vict. c. 85 became law. I am, Sir, your obedient humble servant, Arthur Symonds, Esq. JOHN JOHNES.
Circuit No. 32.
Wretham Hall, Thetford, 23rd December, 1850. SIR,-In answer to the query in your letter of the 10th instant, I say without hesitation that in my judgment "the law which enables parties to be examined as witnesses in the County Courts has worked VERY well." I might content myself with simply answering your query, but I will add, for the information of the Society, that I have no doubt that a frightful amount of perjury is committed in the courts over which I preside, but quite as much by witnesses who are not parties as by parties, and nine times in ten by the defendant, or his witnesses. I would add, that if the judge takes pains to arrive at the truth, in my opinion, he need very seldom be misled by the perjury; and also, that from the experience I have had for seventeen years in the Superior Courts, I believe that a proportionate amount of perjury takes place at quarter sessions and assizes, with less ample means of detection, and with greater effect in the perversion of justice. I am, Sir, your obedient servant, T. J. BIRCH.
Circuit No. 33.
Bury St. Edmunds, 1st January, 1851. SIR,-In answer to your letter, I beg to state, for the information of the Society for Promoting the Amendment of the Law, that in the County Courts the law which enables parties to be examined as witnesses has hitherto worked well from necessity, as in the great majority of cases, which are those of small shopkeepers, the parties sale and delivery. themselves (or more commonly their wives) are alone able to prove
Under an extended jurisdiction, and when no such necessity exists, I have great doubts upon the subject, and am inclined to think that it will tend to give a dangerous advantage to unscrupulous
Asfordby, near Melton Mowbray, 23rd December, 1850. SIR,-I believe that in full nine cases out of every ten which are tried in the County Courts justice would be utterly unattainable without the examination of one or both of the parties to the suit, or of the wives of the parties. I certainly observe many very fearful cases of perjury which are occasioned by the examination of parties, but they are generally easy of detection. Whether the law works well or ill must, I think, depend upon the view which is taken of the value of justice, that is, whether it is well or ill purchased at the expense of a great amount of perjury. I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient humble servant, J. D. BURNABY. Judge of Circuit 34.
Circuit No. 35.
Little Shelford, 3rd January, 1851. SIR,-In reply to the query contained in your note of the 10th ult., I wish to state it as my opinion that in those cases which are decided by a judge, without the interference of a jury, there can be no question that the law which enables parties to be examined as witnesses in the County Courts has worked well; indeed in the majority of such cases justice could not be done unless such were the law. In regard to those cases which are tried before a jury, I do not feel myself equally competent to give an opinion upon the point. I am, Sir, your obedient servant, JOHN COLLYER.
A. Symonds, Esq., &c., &c.
Circuit, No. 36.
Brackley, 29th December, 1850. SIR,-In reply to your communication dated the 10th instant, and received by me on the 22nd, I beg to say, that in my judgment the law which enables parties to be examined as witnesses in the County Courts has worked well.
I do not suppose that a lengthened statement of my reasons for this conclusion is desired; I will therefore only say, that the law in question enables the court to ascertain the facts of the case from those who are almost always best, sometimes solely, cognizant of them; that my own experience would not lead me to believe that, in cases where false evidence has been given, a failure of justice has to any extent been the result; and that I doubt whether wilful perjury is committed so frequently from interest as from partisanship. I think, too, that contradictions in evidence proceed more often from the witnesses representing their suppositions and imperfect recollections as certainties, than from a wilful and corrupt determination on the one side or on the other to state absolute falsehoods. I therefore conclude that the law in question promotes the discovery of truth, and does not give rise to wilful perjury in any considerable degree, and consequently that it works well. I am, Sir, your obedient servant, JOHN W. WING.
The Secretary of the Law Amendment Society.
Circuit No. 37.
26th December, 1850. In my judgment the law has worked well. J. B. PARRY.
Circuit No. 38.
Lincoln's Inn, 6th January, 1851. SIR,-I will answer the question put to me by Council of the Society for Promoting the Amendment of the Law in the words of the question, and my answer is this; in my judgment the law which enables parties to be examined as witnesses in the County Courts has worked well. I will only add, that for this purpose the cases which have come before the County Courts, so far as my experience extends, may be divided into four classes.
1st. Where there is no evidence produced other than the parol testimony of the plaintiff and defendant, and that is contradictory. These cases are comparatively rare, and the matters in dispute of small amount; but if, in such cases, the parties were not allowed to be examined, a just demand would be irrecoverable. In such cases I have almost invariably found, that, by a careful examination of the parties, information is obtained so as to arrive at the justice of the case.
2nd. Where, besides the parol testimony of the parties, there is documentary evidence (which I always require to be produced at the hearing), such as books and accounts, rendered. In these cases, the documents and parol evidence of the parties, which is
always necessary and used to explain the documents, and conduct of the parties with respect to the matters in question, afford materials for generally coming to a correct conclusion upon the case. 3rd. The third class of cases is where there is documentary evidence, testimony of witnesses and of the parties; and in this class of cases I have found that the evidence of the parties, so far from obstructing, has invariably assisted in discovering and ascertaining the truth.
4th. Another class of cases is, where the plaintiff is examined on his own behalf, and there is documentary evidence on both sides, and testimony of witnesses on behalf of the plaintiff and defendant, and the plaintiff and the witnesses depose to matters which passed between the plaintiff and the defendant, and the defendant is in court and not examined, and the question materially túrns upon what passed between them; in this case the nonexamination of the defendant may materially assist in coming to a correct decision upon the plaintiff's demand."
If the allowing parties to be examined as witnesses for or against each other in the County Courts should be considered as tending to the furtherance of justice in the proceedings in those courts, the rule may not improbably be extended to other courts; and f am the more induced to say this, as, upon a trial in the city of London, at the sittings after last Michaelmas Term, before Lord Campbell, Chief Justice, of Ann Lavey, for perjury in one of the County Courts, of which she was found guilty, his lordship, in passing sentence upon her, is represented as having said: "A great experiment is now being tried in the administration of justice, by permitting plaintiffs and defendants to be examined in their own cause in the County Courts, and it was a practice which perhaps might be extended to other than County Courts. It was, however, impossible to render that experiment successful, unless the respective parties were to speak the truth."-County Courts Chronicle, January, 1851, p. 3.
Circuit No. 39.
J. HERBERT KOE.
East Bergholt, 23rd December, 1850. SIR, Your letter of the 10th did not reach me till yesterday. In reply to your query, I beg to state, for the information of the Council of the Society for the Amendment of the Law, that the clause in the County Courts Act which enables the parties to the suit to be examined, has in my judgment worked satisfactorily in furtherance of the ends of justice.
I answer the question, however, as I understand you to put it, "has it worked well in the County Courts?" I give no opinion as to the policy of extending it to the Superior Courts, simply because I do not understand you to request me to do so.
I may observe, however, that in those transactions of life in which the parties are very frequently the only persons who have any knowledge whatever on the subject of the debt or the matter in dispute, to exclude their evidence is to deprive them of all legal remedy. I need hardly tell you that there are very few such cases before us. I am, Sir, your obedient servant. Arthur Symonds, Esq. WM. GURDOŃ. P. S. I have little time to write, but if on any occasion, when I may happen to be in town, I could personally afford any information to the Council, I should be happy to do so.
Circuit No. 40.
MY DEAR SIR,-As far as my experience of nearly four years goes, the law which enables parties to be examined as witnesses in the County Courts has worked well. Without that provision I think it would have been impossible to reach the justice of the case in a vast number, perhaps in the majority, of the matters which have come before me.
In one of my cases, the plaintiff (a Jewess) gave evidence upon which she was afterwards convicted of perjury. The perjury was committed in a collateral manner; viz., in denying that she had been charged with, and tried for, some offence at the Old Bailey. The inducement to conceal the fact would not have been much less if she had been a disinterested witness.
Serjeant's Inn, 27th December, 1850. SIR,-In my judgment the law which enables parties to be examined as witnesses in the County Courts, as far as experience goes in my own, has worked well. I would remark, truth naturally works powerfully its own way.
The detection of perjury is not often difficult, if the judge be patient and painstaking in investigation, and more especially if he add to them professional experience and practice. I do not remember a motion in my own court for a new trial, on the ground that either party had committed perjury.
I am, Sir, yours faithfully,