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Mr. JOHN CHARLES WHITTEN, Depute Sheriff-Clerk, has been appointed Sheriff-Clerk of Mid-Lothian, in room of the late Mr. Kenmure Maitland.
Mr. GEORGE SELLAR, Depute Sheriff-Clerk, has been appointed Sheriff-Clerk of Lanarkshire, in room of the late Mr. John Drysdale.
Examiners of Law-Agents-Act of Sederunt.-Edinburgh, 6th November 1873.-The Lords of Council and Session, in pursuance of the Act 36 & 37 Vict. c. 63, § 8, Nominate and Appoint James Stuart Tytler, Professor of Conveyancing in the University of Edinburgh; Robert Berry, Master of Arts, Professor of Roman Law and the Law of Scotland in the University of Glasgow; George Grub, Doctor of Laws, Lecturer on Scots Law and Conveyancing in the University of Aberdeen; John Thomson Mowbray, Writer to the Signet, Edinburgh; John Carment, Solicitor before the Supreme Court, Edinburgh; James Roberton, Doctor of Laws, a member of the Faculty of Procurators, Glasgow; John Boyd Baxter, President of the Society of Procurators and Solicitors, Dundee; and Charles Duncan, a member of the Society of Advocates, Aberdeen, to be Examiners for the purposes of the said Act; and further, appoint the said James Stuart Tytler to act as Chairman at all Meetings of the said Examiners. And the Lords DIRECT and ORDAIN the stated Meetings of the said Examiners for the examination of persons applying for admission as Law-Agents, to be held in Edinburgh four times in the year. Further, the Lords appoint a Special Meeting of the Examiners to be held in the Exchequer Chambers, Edinburgh, on Friday the 14th November current, at three o'clock, p.m.
And the Lords Appoint this Act of Sederunt to be inserted in the Books of Sederunt and to be printed and published in the usual form. JOHN INGLIS, I.P.D.
[We regret that the following letter from a respected correspondent was received too late for insertion in our last number.]
INVENTORY FOR CONFIRMATION OF EXECUTORS. EDINBURGH, October 1873.
SIR,-Several letters have lately appeared in the Scotsman complaining of Commissary Clerks' fees in the confirmation of executors, and calling the attention of Scotch members of Parliament to the subject. But I beg through your pages to call the attention of Scotch members of Parliament and the public, and I hope also of the Government, to a much more serious and important grievance, peculiar to Scotland, in the form of inventory required to be given
up on oath by executors for confirmation in the proper Commissary Court.
In England and Ireland, what comes in place of our Scotch form of inventory, with affidavit attached, written on the proper amount of inventory stamp, is a mere affidavit alone for the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, without any specific inventory at all, excepting in so far as it may happen to include any Scotch property, and setting forth, in the most general terms, only such an approximation to the cumulo valuation as was necessary to show the amount of inventory stamp-on which it should be written-such, for example, as that the value of the deceased's estate "is £9000 and under £10,000."
In Scotland, however, a specific inventory requires to be prefixed to the affidavit, setting forth in detail every separate species of personal property to which the deceased had right or claim, and the value separately put upon it; and in the case of the household furniture and whole other effects found in the house, including even the body clothes of the deceased, it is the practice to require, to be also produced with it, a detailed inventory and valuation by a licensed appraiser. Of course, where the death is that of a near and dear relative, it is a most painful and distressing thing for the executor, within a short time thereafter, and before a title can be completed for intromitting with or administering the estate, to be obliged to go through such kind of work on the responsibility of an oath, and often involving an immense amount of labour, and to have the whole contents of the deceased's house laid open to and inventoried and valued by an appraiser for the purpose of being recorded in the Commissary Court books, open to all who may choose to examine such record. All this however was bad enough as the law stood previous to 1860, while the value of the separate items, required to be entered in the inventory, was the fixed value as at the date of the death, which, being the actual period of the succession, seemed the natural period at which the valuation should be made for inventory duty; but a very great, and indeed a most intolerable aggravation was introduced in that year by the Act 23 & 24 Vict. cap. 80, which, besides requiring the accruing proceeds down to the date of the oath to be calculated and added, also required the value of each item of the inventory to be calculated and stated as of that date. Any one who has had experience in making up inventories under that Act must have felt how difficult and burdensome, and often impossible, it was to comply with its provisions, especially when the estate was large, and consisted of great varieties of jointstock or other property, varying often largely from day to day in the marketable value, and perhaps also of shares in other estates so composed in the hands of others. The executor, too, might be at a distance from posts, or any means of knowing the market value at the date of his oath; and yet the Act requires all the calculations to be correctly made and duly filled up in the extended in
ventory as at that date. This must be often very trying to a conscientious man, who, besides the enormous amount of trouble given to him in endeavouring to comply with the provisions of the Act, may of necessity be finally obliged to swear to what he has not at the time the means of knowing to be correct.
Now, why should Scotch executors be subjected to so much. trouble and annoyance when English and Irish executors are entirely free from it, excepting in regard to what may consist of Scotch estate? And it may be further noticed that, when a Scotch executor includes in his inventory English or Irish property, he is required to give the details in the same form as the Scotch estate, although not required to be so specified if the same property was given up by an English or Irish executor or administrator. I believe the grievance complained of to have arisen, in a great measure, from a peculiarity of Scotch law, that in general a debt requires specific confirmation to entitle an executor to sue for it and insist on payment if objected to; but as partial confirmation was long ago abolished by the Act 4 Geo. IV. c. 98, there is no longer any reason why the law should still require specific confirmation at all as a title to uplift, sue, and discharge, and should not make general confirmation upon a general affidavit in the English and Irish form sufficient for every purpose of administering the estate, without any specific inventory at all. To give the desired remedy, however, and put Scotch executors on the same footing, in this respect, as English and Irish executors and administrators, the law would require to be so altered in regard to specific confirmation being no longer necessary, in addition to dispensing with any specific inventory other than the general amount or value being set forth in the affidavit according to the English and Irish form. If redress of the grievance complained of should not be obtained to the full extent, it would be a material relief to get the obnoxious provision, above referred to in the Act 23 & 24 Vict. cap. 80, repealed, or at least modified to the extent of allowing the value of any specific item of the inventory to be stated as it stood at any time within one month immediately preceding the date of the oath.
Before concluding, I beg to be allowed to take the opportunity of calling attention to another grievance connected with the same subject, although not peculiar to Scotland, but applicable also to England and Ireland-namely, the great difference in the amount of inventory duty, according as the succession is testate or intestate, the difference, in the example above given of an estate amounting to £9000 and under £10,000, being no less than £90. I can see no intelligible reason for putting such or any additional burden. upon intestate succession, which has already considerable additional burdens in the expenses required for making up a title.-I am, &c., JUSTICE TO SCOTLAND.
The Right Hon. Sir WILLIAM BOVILL, Lord Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, died, after a short illness, on Saturday, 1st November, at Combe House, near Kingston-on-Thames, the residence of J. C. Sym, Esq., in the fifty-ninth year of his age. He was the second son of the late Benjamin Bovill, Esq., of Wimbledon, Surrey, who died in 1864. He was born in the year 1814, and having been privately educated, was articled to Messrs. Willis, Watson, Bower and Willis, of Tokenhouse Yard, Lothbury. Mr. Oxenford, articled with him, says: "At an early age-for he was about two years younger than myself-he was remarkable for the zeal with which he pursued his legal studies, a virtue which, in those days at least, was by no means universal among 'articles.' It was at the instance of Mr. Bower, I believe, that he quitted the office for the Bar." He was first admitted a pleader under the Bar, and was called by the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, in Hilary Term, 1841. He went the Home Circuit, and his course as a junior was marked by his rapid entrance into an extensive and lucrative practice, and he soon became one of the acknowledged leaders on the circuit he had chosen. The Surrey Standard says:"There can be no doubt that his lordship's connection with a great East-end manufacturing firm contributed to his success at the Bar. In defending their interests he gained great readiness in dealing with the technicalities of engineering, which are very puzzling to barristers; and thus we find him engaged in almost all those complicated patent' cases which are so constantly before the courts. We need not say, however, that Mr. Bovill never sank into this specialty. In London, he was, perhaps, best known for his connection with the celebrated Tom Provis case, and on a circuit his briefs embraced cases of every description. He was fortunate, indeed, in the time at which he joined the Home Circuit. Platt, with his solid law and unfailing resource, had gone. Mr. Serjeant Shee, Mr. Serjeant Channell, Mr. Montagu Chambers, Baron Bramwell, Mr. Justice Lush, and Mr. Peacock, were, so far as we remember, the leading counsel, when Mr. Bovill began to take an active part at Nisi Prius. In a very short time the greater part of these were, from one cause or another, removed, and Mr. Bovill speedily found himself engaged in almost every cause of importance. His genial temperament undoubtedly conduced to his success both with judges and juries; and in the county towns--we can at least say it was so in Lewes and Guildford--he was a general favourite." In 1855 he obtained a silk gown, and was made a Bencher of his Inn. In 1857 he entered Parliament in the Conservative interest, for Guildford; and in 1866 he was appointed Solicitor-General, in the administration then formed by Lord Derby. When Sir Fitzroy Kelly, who was Attorney-General, became Chief Baron, Sir William Bovill did not
succeed to the post of First Law Officer of the Crown, Mr. Rolt having been appointed Attorney-General. It was understood that Sir William voluntarily offered to waive his claim to the promotion to which he was entitled, in order that the services of so distinguished a lawyer as Mr. Rolt should be available for the Government. Sir William Bovill's short term of office as Solicitor-General gave him absolutely no opportunity of appearing before the House as a member of the administration. He was appointed in November 1866, Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas. He was sworn a member of Her Majesty's Privy Council in 1867; he was also for many years a magistrate for the county of Surrey, and he was likewise a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1870 he was created an honorary D.C.L. by the University of Oxford.
It was as a Judge, perhaps, that the deceased was least successful. He succeeded a great Judge who for years had presided over a strong court. He must have felt the superiority of Willes in learning, and indeed of Mr. Justice Keatinge also, both of whom possessed the advantage of long judicial experience when Mr. Bovill was promoted from the Bar to be their chief. The diffidence which such a feeling produced is said to have been the cause of the irritability of manner which he displayed towards the Bar. And at Nisi Prius he very early committed the great blunder of unduly interfering with counsel, the result being that within a few weeks of his promotion he came into violent collision with his old and powerful antagonist, Mr. Edward James, the leader of the Northern Circuit. No doubt he acted as he felt conscientiously bound to act in the interests of justice, but it is now universally admitted that the best Judges take as little part as possible in the conduct of a cause until the summing-up. On the whole, therefore, the honest opinion of lawyers concerning the lamented Judge must be, that he was not great, or profoundly learned. But as a commercial lawyer, acute, possessing a great grasp of facts, and a capacity of expressing his views concisely and well, we recognise in him a man who would have been more useful as a puisne than as a chief.
Sir William Bovill married, in 1844, Maria, daughter of John Henry Bolton, Esq. of Lee Park, near Blackheath, Kent, by whom he has had a family of eight sons and four daughters. His eldest son, Mr. William Channell Bovill, is a barrister of the Middle Temple, and Clerk of Assize on the Western Circuit.-The Law Times.
JAMES TRAILL, Esq., Barrister of the Middle Temple, and of Hobbister, Orkney, and of Rattar, Caithness-shire, died on the 17th October, at Worthing, Sussex, in his seventy-ninth year of his age. He was the second son of James Traill, Esq. of Rattar, some time Sheriff of Caithness, by Lady Janet, second daughter of the tenth Earl of Caithness. He was born in 1794, educated at Glasgow and at Balliol College, Oxford, and was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1820. Mr. Traill was for many years Police Magistrate