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therefore, no doubt as to the competency of the forum. But the defender objected, that although the Court of Session was a competent, it was not a convenient forum, because questions, and particularly a question, as to the legality of the contract, would arise, involving consideration of the municipal law of a foreign country, and it was, in view of that, desirable that the rights of parties should be ascertained in the foreign tribunal. The Court have decided that this is both the competent and the convenient forum. Texas, the place of entering into the contract, was the tribunal indicated by the defender as the proper one to try the qnestion, but the Court have held that the Texan courts would have no jurisdiction in the matter. The question as to the legality of the contract is, in the opinion of the Court, one of international, and not of municipal law, the point raised being, whether the Confederate States were to be regarded as constituting a belligerent power, or a mere gang of rebels. In whatever way the question was answered considerations of public law must be the ground of judgment, and accordingly, the Supreme Court of Scotland was as convenient a forum in which to ascertain the rights of parties, as the Supreme Court of any other country. In delivering his opinion, the Lord Justice-Clerk remarked that the Court had never sustained the plea of forum non competens, except when a defender objecting to the jurisdiction of the Court of Session was in a position to point out another competent forum.
Two other cases occurring during the month raise questions of a cognate character. In the case of the North British Railway Company against the Inspector of Poor of the City Parish of Edinburgh, the Court have held that the refreshment rooms belonging to the company fall to be valued separately and are liable to be assessed for poor rates upon that footing. The rooms are let to tenants, and the majority of the Court hold that, therefore, they do not fall to be considered and dealt with under the general undertaking of the company. The cab stands and book stalls which the Inspector also proposed to assess separately, are held to be included in the general undertaking, and to fall under the valuation of the Assessor of Railways and Canals.
The case was argued before seven judges, there having been a division of opinion in the Second Division, and the judgment was reached by a majority of one. The case of Bailie v. Hay is perhaps a still more important one in point of principle. The Police Commissioners of the burgh of Inverness, acting under the Inverness Burgh Act, to which the Valuation Act, so far as necessary, is made applicable, propose to assess the pier at Kessock ferry for the purposes of the Act. A part of the pier—the part on which the assessment is sought to be laid—lies within the parliamentary bounds, and the liability is sought to be imposed upon that footing. The pier was built by Colonel Baillie, whose lands are situated on the other side, and who has under a Crown Charter a right of ferry between the two coasts. The pier has been held by the Court to be merely an adjunct of the ferry, and the ferry is held not to be assessable on the principle that it is a highway, as much so as a turnpike road which is exempt from liability. The Lord Justice Clerk illustrated his position by supposing that instead of a ferry, the water were bridged over. In that case there would be a road which would clearly not be liable, and he did not see that a mere alteration in the mode of transit made any difference in the principle of the assessment.
The late Act of Sederunt.-We cannot find ourselves at the close of another Session without adverting to the beneficial operation of the late Act of Sederunt. Work has been done, and not, as in former times, the mere appearance of it. In truth, matters are proceeding so expeditiously that the fear has been expressed that the remedy which was devised to reform the Court of Session is going to reform it out of existence. If speedy justice is to make an end of the Court of Session, let the result be known as soon as possible; the country cannot afford to keep up an expensive institution merely for the benefit of a profession, however numerous its members may be, and whatever its historical or national traditions. But he must be very blind and ignorant, and careless of all experience, who fails to perceive that the Court of Session can be rehabilitated only by such measures as that which has recently been in operation. The great aim must always be to determine the preference of litigation in favour of the supreme rather than the inferior Courts of the country ; and there is a strong predisposition in the country which only requires to be encouraged in favour of the former.
There is no longer any doubt that the machinery of the Court of Session is capable of being worked with as great and more certain expedition than that of the Sheriff Court, and litigants may be trusted, by a sense of their own interests, to prefer the one tribunal to the other. We are not aware that any statistics have yet been obtained
as to the operation of the Act of Sederunt, but the rapid manner in which cases now disappear from the roll is the best evidence that it is working well.
Bills in Parliament.—This Session of Parliament has opened with good prospects for the compass of useful Scotch legislation. We have in the first place a Trusts (Scotland) Bill to provide greater facilities for the administration of trusts estates, and to make certain powers and provisions which are now usually inserted in trust deeds incident to the office of trustee. This bill, the general features of which we cordially approve of, is in the main a repetition of the bill of last year, which we discussed when laid before Parliament. We also printed the observations upon it by a committee of the Faculty of Advocates. The bill of this year no longer provides, as its predecessor did, per incuriam, that all marriage contracts should be revocable.
There is also an Entail Amendment Bill, by which it is proposed to enact
" That it shall be lawful for any heir of entail, being of full age and in possession of an entailed estate in Scotland, holden by virtue of any tailzie dated on or after the first day of August one thousand eight hundred and forty-eight, to acquire such estate in whole or in part in fee simple, or to sell, alienate, dispone, charge with debts or incumbrances, lease, feu, and excamb such estate in whole or in part, with such and the like consents, and in such way and manner as by the Act Eleven and Twelve Victoria, chapter thirty-six, intituled, “An Act for the Amendment of the law of Entail in Scotland,' would enable him to disentail, sell, alienate, dispone, charge with debts or incumbrances, lease, feu, and excamb such estate in whole or in part, if holder under a tailzie dated prior to the said first day of August one thousand eight hundred and forty-eight."
Last year a committee appointed to inquire into the subject reported their opinion “that the poors' rates on the one hand, and the other local rates on the other, ought not to be assessed on two different valuations of rental, the one the gross and the other the nett, but that they should alike be assessed on one and the same valuation,” and “ that the just principle for estimating the rent or yearly value of lands and heritages for the purpose of local taxation, is that provided in Scotland (in accordance with the principle adopted in England and Ireland) for the poors' rate, by the Act of Eighth and Ninth Victoria," and the committee further recommended certain alterations in the Valuation Act, in order to ascertain in a uniform manner
VOL. X NO. CXII.- APRIL 1866.
the amount of deductions authorised by the Poor Law Act, and also suggested certain other amendments which it would be, in their opinion, advisable to make in the said Valuation Act. With a view to giving effect to these suggestions, we have a bill relating to the subject of valuation of lands and heritages, under which it is proposed that the assessors are to ascertain and state the rates, taxes, and public charges affecting lands, including the amount of assessment for building and repairing churches and manses, spreading the expense of these over the whole period over which the burden may be intended by 25 and 26 Vict., c. 58; also the amount of average annual cost of repairs, insurance, and other expense necessary to keeping the subjects in order; and the assessors are to deduct the sum of these from the gross rental, and thenceforth all poors' rates and other local rates leviable according to the Valuation Roll, are to be levied according to the rentals so ascertained, and the Parochial Boards are not in future themselves to make such deductions, but to take the nett rental as is ascertained. The other provisions it is unnecessary to detail here.
Then there is a Poor Law Officers Superannuation (Scotland) Bill to provide retiring allowances to officers employed in parishes in Scotland in the relief of the poor. The allowance is not in any case to exceed two thirds of the salary, whether computed according to a fixed sum or to a poundage, and, like the salary, is to be paid out of the ordinary assessment. Twenty years' service at least in adninistering the law relating to the management of the poor in Scotland is required, and no officer shall be entitled to such an allowance who is not sixty years of age.
Of the Writs Registration (Scotland) Bill it is unnecessary to say anything further in the columns of this journal, as it was discussed at considerable length last year. Holding it to be a thoroughly sound well-considered measure, which promises to be of great advantage to the country, we can but trust that no opposition will induce the Lord Advocate to abandon it.
About the most important measure of all is the proposed amendment of the Summary Procedure Act of 1864. The leading provision in the new bill is the erection of a court of appeal, which shall mean either division of the Court of Session where the appeal is from a civil jurisdiction, and the High Court of Justiciary or the Circuit Court where the jurisdiction is criminal. The second clause provides that any of the parties dissatisfied with the judgment of the justice or magistrate as being erroneous in point of law, or on the ground that evidence has been incompetently admitted or rejected, may apply in writing to get a case signed and stated for the determination of the court of appeal. The justices may refuse the application if made upon grounds that are frivolous, but they must certify to that effect; and when the application is made at the instance of the Lord Advocate they shall not have the power of refusal. Where the justices refuse a certificate, application for one may be made either to the Court of Session or the High Court of Justiciary, according as the case is of a civil or criminal nature. The court to which a case is transmitted shall now determine the questions of law arising upon it, and may either decide these or remit back to the justices, as they may consider proper; and all such orders shall be final. Notes of suspension are no longer to be necessary to bring any case under the notice of the Court of Appeal. Either party who avails himself of the right of a Court of Appeal shall be held to have abandoned his right of appeal to the Quarter Sessions. One of the most important sections in the new bill is that which repeals the sixteenth section of the Summary Procedure Act of 1864, which provides that it shall not be necessary to make a note of the evidence. Sheriffs of counties trying complaints under the Summary Jurisdiction Act are bound to do so in future, and so are justices, unless in complaints which they may be authorised to try by any special statute, or where the statute expressly provides that the evidence shall not be reduced to writing. The 28th section of the Summary Procedure Act of 1864 is repealed, and in place thereof it is provided that such cases shall be deemed criminal in which the justices are authorised to pronounce at once a sentence of imprisonment—or, secondly, to pronounce in his option a sentence of imprisonment or to impose a fine or penalty; and all other cases shall be deemed civil.
English Divorce Court.—Sir J. P. Wilde has dismissed a petition praying for the dissolution of a marriage entered into between two Mormons in the State of Utah, on the grounds of the adultery of the wife. The plaintiff had quitted Utah and abandoned the faith of Mormonism, but the wife refused to accompany him, and remained a Mormon, marrying co-respondent in Utah. His lordship held the petitioner was bound to prove that the marriage was a binding one, and was of opinion that a Mormon marriage was invalid in a Christian country.