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concerning the operations of the present year from the last annual report printed and circulated among you, and with the contents of which I will presume you to be acquainted.”

He then proceeded to narrate the proceedings of the committee in reference to the proposed law reforms of the last Session: The Land Transfer Act, the Law of Property Amendment Bill, the Joint Stock Companies' Act, Law of Partnership Amendment Bill, and many other measures. As an example of the good sense and activity of the committee, we select two paragraphs.


“The Bill to amend the Law relating to Judgments, Executions, Statutes, Recognizances, and Lites Pendentes, introduced by Mr. Hadfield, proposed to abolish the charge on land of registered judgments. Now, however desirable it might be to alter this law as applicable to future cases, it appeared to your committee that it would be a change in the law which would very prejudicially have affected the rights of creditors by depriving them of the protection as to then existing judgınents expressly reserved to them at the instance of the managing committee, by Lord St. Leonards' Act of 1860. Notice of opposing the second reading of the Bill was at once given by the Attorney-General, but out of deference to Mr. Hadfield the managing committee were unwilling to take active steps against it unless absolutely compelled to do so. They, therefore, wrote to Mr. Hadfield, urging their reasons and requesting him to withdraw the Bill. This, however, he declined to do; and the managing committee having received an intimation that the Attorney-General needed help in his opposition, they considered it their duty to prepare a full statement of their arguments against the proposed confiscation of existing securities, and embodied them in a petition against the Bill. This was presented on their behalf by the Attorney-General

. After Sir William Atherton had delivered his speech, Mr.

Hadfield said he would not trouble the House to divide, and withdrew the measure.

“In order to show the vast amount of property that would have been affected (an amount almost incredible) had Mr. Hadfield's Bill become the law, I would refer to a return which in May last was presented by order of the House of Commons. It appears from that return that in less than two years, namely, July, 1860, to May, 1862, 3,668 judgments have been registered (or re-registered to keep them alive) in the registry of judgments, for the purpose of their being a charge upon landed property, and this is in addition to judgments on which satisfaction has been entered.' The report also states that there were within the five years preceding the 31st May, 1862, unsatisfied judgments amounting to £16,500,000.'


“ BANKRUPTCY TRUST DEEDS. “Another gratifying result of the endeavours of your committee is the general order of the Court of Bankruptcy of the 22nd May, 1862, directing that an attested copy of every trust deed registered after the 5th June last, under section 192 of the late Act, should, with a schedule of the creditors, be filed by the Registrar, as recommended in the last annual report of the association, and in a letter written to the Solicitor-General by the committee."

Other topics referred to in the address were the questions of legal and medical coroners, and preliminary education, as to which Mr. Shaen made the following remarks :

“The argument in favour of the appointment of a medical man to the office of coroner would equally apply to the appointment of a medical man as judge in a charge of murder by poison, as a coroner's duties were purely judicial, the medical information necessary being supplied him in the evidence to which he had to apply the law in his summing up to the jury.” Adverting to the first three local preliminary examinations that had taken place under the new system, he said that “at that in February there were 23 candidates from London, Liverpool,



and Cardiff, of whom 19 passed; that at that in May there were 113 candidates from London, Birmingham, Bristol, Exeter, Leeds, Liverpool, and Newcastle-on-Tyne, of whom 77 passed; that at that in August there were 96 candidates from London, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle-on-Tyne, and Plymouth, of whom 74 passed. The percentage of those rejected was therefore 36.72, which, compared with other examinations, was, he considered, fair evidence that the examinations were a good test of the candidates' abilities. As to the immediate examinations, four graduates presented themselves at the Easter Term and passed, and at the Trinity Term four graduates and eight ten-year clerks presented themselves, and eleven of the twelve passed."

The first paper read was “On the Relations between the Profession, their clients, and the Public,” by Mr. G. J. Johnson, of Birmingham, a solicitor, who holds the appointment of Professor of Law at Queen's College in that town. The following extracts will show the style and character of

After premising that its object was to point out a few of the mistakes constantly made about the profession by their clients and the public, the writer continued :

“ The first misconception, and root of all others, is the belief of the public that law is for the most part a wilful complication by lawyers, for their own benefit, of what ought to be a few simple rules. It is true that this fallacy is not often put into words, for it is just one of those absurdities which are refuted by putting them into plain English. It is as correct to say that hunger and thirst are the inventions of bakers and brewers, and kept up by them for their selfish ends. Nevertheless, some such belief is the unconscious sentiment of the great mass of our clients and the public. They verily believe that, but for us, the enormous legend of English law could be cut down into a little pocket volume, which everybody might buy at the railway stations for a shilling, and thereby become his own lawyer without having a fool for his client. Even so able and acute a writer as the author of “The History

this paper.


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of Civilization,” adopted the same fallacy to the extent of arguing at great length that all our present and future legislation was, and must be destructive, and that the statutes would by and by be reduced to a minimum. I admit the constant destruction which goes on every session, but I see no prospect on that account only that English law will at present become more simple, because I notice that whilst we are repealing on one hand, we are adding statutes and cases to an enormous extent upon subjects unknown to the books fifty years ago.

“The reason of this is, that the law of any nation is simply the ultimate expression of its average morality; the hardening of that morality into institutions. English law is complex because English life is complex, and for the present there does not appear much probability of its getting simplified.”

Illustrating this in detail, the writer then proceeded to the practical conclusion that the most rapid and extensive law reforms would not enable the lay public to dispense with professional assistance of some kind or other. Of course they might abolish attorneys and solicitors, but if they could not all be their own lawyers, they would simply fall into the hands of some of the species of the genus “agent,” of whose malpractices the writer gave some striking instances. He continued:

“Now let us straightforwardly say to our clients and the public, ‘if you could get rid of us we should not blame you for doing so, but if your attempts to do so are not only futile, but costly, had you not better as sensible men keep us in the two objects which will be most beneficial to both of us, viz., improve our status, and remunerate us fairly?'”

On the improvement of status an account was given of the exertions of the association, now happily crowned with success, to establish an examination in general knowledge previous to articles; an object which the association has steadily pursued since its establishment, and which is destined to have a great influence on the well-being of the profession. The next two papers were taken together, both having


'reference to a subject of great interest to country solicitors,the recent legislation as to transfer of land. The first was by Mr. W. S. Cookson, of Lincoln's Inn, and was confined to an examination of the “Act to facilitate the proof of title to, and the conveyance of real estates" (25 & 26 Vict., c. 53), in order, to use the writer's words, to ascertain “what it means, how the machine is to be worked, whether defects in it do really exist which, as apprehended by The Times, will require its amendment in many important particulars, and what its effects will be on our clients, their lands and their purses.” After an analysis of the Act, the writer proceeded to point out numerous defects in its wording, arising from a disregard of the canon of legal composition, that the same word shall always be used where the same thing is meant; e.g., “estate” is sometimes used in its legal sense, and sometimes in its popular sense, where, according to the interpretation clause, the framer of the Act meant “land.” Registry is constantly used for “register,” and register is constantly applied without explanation to the register of “estates," meaning "land,” the register of title, and the register of incumbrances. He then continued :

“The scheme of registration proposed by the Act appears to be open to several serious objections.

“The first objection arises from the difficulties and responsibilities which must often attend the preparation for the record of title, of an exact record in concise terms of the existing estates, powers, and interests in the land (s. 14). Nothing perhaps is more difficult to a lawyer than to express concisely, and with absolute accuracy, the whole effect of a written instrument. One of our most eminent conveyancers was recently asked which of the two he would prefer drawing for the same fee, the deed, or the concise summary of it for the record of title; and he unhesitatingly said the deed.'

“The second objection is the necessity involved, in indefeasibility of title, of finally determining in all cases, except those of disputed boundaries, which may be left undecided (s. 16),

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