« AnteriorContinuar »
the natural right of every man to set what price he pleases upon
Yet when every thing is done that can be done to diminish the expence of law proceedings, it is probable they will still be more expensive than in the time of the French government; which ought not to be a matter of surprize, since the prices of corn and provisions, and of all sorts of labour, are almost double of what they were at that time.
The next inconvenience arising from the present establishment are conducted of the courts of judicature complained of by the Canadians is the upon the pred tedious length of law-suits. This is owing to the unfrequency of
the terms or sessions of the supreme court of judicature, and of
is very striking in the eyes of the Canadians, and is esteemed a very considerable inconvenience.
Besides the usual ill consequences arising from the want of difpatch in law-proceedings, this unfrequency of the sessions of the superiour courts of judicature has been a principal cause of the increase of the fees of the Canadian attornies and advocates : for, as their opportunities of pleading causes happen so much seldomer than formerly, they endeavour to make up, by the value of the fees they now receive in the three sessions of the court of Common Pleas, the advantages they formerly derived from the number of them in the time that the French king's courts fat every we
There is indeed in the present establishment a court of justice in each district of the province that fits every week for the dispatch of business. These are the courts of the justices of peace. This was a very judicious institution, and well suited to the circumNances and disposition of the people. Yet it is liable to some. objections. For, in the first place, the justices of the are the judges of these courts, are not much skilled in judicial proceedings; and, secondly, the same justices not attending constantly at these sessions, it is often necessary, where a matter cannot be decided at one session, but is adjourned to the next, to repeat all the proofs and arguments before the justices at the second seflion, which . had been produced at the former session before the other justices. who happened not to be now upon the bench, which occasions an. increase of expence and trouble: and, lastly, their jurisdiction extends only to such disputes as relate to sums of money that do. not exceed ten pounds. In all contests for greater sums the parties. are obliged to have recourse either to the quarterly courts of the justices of the peace, or to the courts of King's Bench and Common. Pleas, where the sessions are held but three times a year.
The next inconvenience is the severity of the present method of Imprisonmen proceeding in civil actions, by arresting and imprisoning the de- for Debt. fendant's body. This, by filling the gaols with unhappy debtors, increases the number of the poor and helpless, and makes the families of the debtors, as well as the debtors themselves, become oftentimes a burden to the publick;, and it is generally thought by the: Canadians to be an unnecessary degree of harshness.
To remedy these several inconveniencies we beg leave to recommend to your Majesty the following plan for the administration of justice in this province for the time to come; which we have formed in imitation of that which was in use in the time of the
French government. A plan for the
That this province should be again divided into the three districts of of justice in this Quebec, Three Rivers, and Montreal, as in the time of the French province.
government: which might be called the Shires of Quebec, Three Rivers, and Montreal; and each of these three districts should have separate officers of justice : that a Royal court of judicature should be established in each of the three towns of Quebec, Three Rivers,
and Montreal, which are the capital, or rather only, towns of those Three royal several shires or districts: and that each of these courts shall confift
of one able English judge, appointed by your Majesty, and invested with full powers to hear and determine all matters, both criminal and civil, arising within his jurisdiction, just as your Majesty's chief justice of the province is impowered to do upon the present establishment throughout the whole province.
judges, one to cach ihire or district of the province.
These judges to These English judges should be barristers at law, of at least five bc English bar. risters at law, years standing at the bar; and they should be such as, besides their Standing at the skill and knowledge of the law, had a competent knowledge of the
French language. And further, to enable these English judges more readily to understand the testimonies of the French witnesses, that would so often be examined before then, and likewise to comprehend the nature and extent of such of the antient laws and
customs of the country as your Majesty shall think fit to be either Each Einglith continued or revived, we conceive, that it would be convenient to have a Canadian give each of them a Canadian lawyer for an affeffor, or affiftant to alteller, sooral them in the decision of causes : but the Canadian assessors should
have no vote or authority to decide the causes in conjunction with the English judges; but should only assist them with their opinion
and advice, the whole power of finally deciding them being vested be vested in the solely in the English judges. This employment of the Canadian Englita judges. lawyers, even in this subordinate capacity of assistants and advisers,
would be thought a very gracious indulgence in your Majesty by all your Majesty's new subjects ; and many of them, to whom it has been mentioned, have expressed an entire approbation of it. If they had an equal degree of authority with the English judges in the final
Gitant; but the fole power of de ciding the
week, with a very few ex
decifion of causes, they would be much more likely than the English
The method of proceeding in these courts in civil actions might Method of per
in there be as follows. The plaintiff might bring a declaration or plaint, in writing, into court, which might be either in the French or English language, as he thought proper, praying the process of the court to cause the defendant to be suinmoned to answer it; but not to be arrested by his body. This plaint should be read to the judge in open court, in order that he should determine whether or no it contained a good cause of action; and, till he approved it, no summons thould be issued upon it. If he approved it, he should order it to be filed amongst the records of the court by the clerk or regifter of the court, and should award'a summons to be sent to the defendant to come and answer the plaintiff's demand, at such a time as he, the judge, should therein appoint. If he neglected to come at the time appointed by the summons, without any good reason for his negle&, he should be condemned to pay the plaintiff a moderate
sum of money, to be ascertained by the judge, as a compenfation
or other proofs himself. If both, or either of the parties, desired Juries to the to have a jury, a jury should be summoned to attend, at such folthe parties de- lowing session as the judge should appoint. This jury should be
paid for their attendance by the party that desired to have a jury; be paid for their and if both desired it, then equally by both parties. They should
receive five shillings sterling a man. For at present it is a subject of complaint among the Canadians that they are taken from their necessary occupations to attend upon juries (which is by no means an agreeable employment to them) without any consideration for it: and this, if it happened every week without any compensation, would be thought, and perhaps justly, a very heavy burden. But for a reward of five fillings they will serve with great alacrity.
These juries should be appointed in nearly the same manner as chusing them.
special juries are in England; that is, the ministerial officer, that executed the process of the court, should return to the court a list of four times as many persons qualified to be jurymen as were necessary to constitute a jury; that is, if a jury was to consist of twelve men, a list of forty-eight persons fo qualified; and then each party should strike out twelve of the names contained in this list:
fired it. They should