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THE Bills of Exchange Bill, drafted by Mr. M. D. Chalmers, Barrister-at-law, was introduced into Parliament by Sir John Lubbock, and was referred to Select Committees in the House of Commons, and afterwards in the House of Lords, in both of which it underwent careful revision. Notwithstanding that the laws of England and Scotland relating to bills and notes were, except in regard to a few points, the same, it was intended that the Bill should not apply to Scotland, and many of the sections were expressed in technical language, which tended to obscure its meaning to Scotch lawyers, and to throw difficulties in the way of its being understood by merchants and bankers on either side of the Tweed. On the suggestion of Sheriff Dove Wilson, well known as the editor of “Thomson's Bills of Exchange,” it was resolved to make the Act apply to Scotland. Sheriff Dove Wilson was examined before the Select Committee of the House of Commons, and communicated a valuable memorandum on the differences between English and Scotch law. The Faculty of Advocates approved of the proposal to codify the laws of both countries on this subject, and laid before the Select Committee a report prepared by Mr. R. V. Campbell, Advocate, as convener of a committee to which they had remitted the Bill. In this Report, the peculiarities of Scotch law were pointed out, and the necessity of preserving certain of them ; in particular, the negotiability of a bill, though not containing the words “or order”; the assignation of the drawer's funds in the hands of the drawee completed by presentment of a bill; the rule as to consideration; the law and practice relating to summary diligence; the rules in bankruptcy; and the sexennial prescription. The Solicitor-General for Scotland (Mr. Asher) prepared a series of amendments, which gave effect to most of the suggestions from Scotland, and also materially improved the language of the Bill. These amendments were generally accepted. In the House of Lords, the Select Committeeamong the members of which were all the Law Peersintroduced amendments which still further improved the Bill.
The Bills of Exchange Act, 1882, supersedes the decisions of the Courts which had established, with a few exceptions, the same principles throughout the United Kingdom. These decisions are, however, in some cases still of value. Accordingly, in the notes on the sections of the Acts, decisions of the Courts of Law in England and Scotland have been referred to, either as explanatory of the principle of common law now embodied in the statute, or as illustrative of the circumstances in which the principle was applied.
Notes have also been introduced on the rules in bankruptcy, the sexennial prescription in Scotland, the limitation of action in England, and summary diligence in Scotland, which are declared not to be affected by the Act. The Appendix contains the Stamp Act, and other Acts of Parliament relating to bills which are not repealed, and
It is hoped that persons interested in bills, cheques, and notes will find in this volume the requisite
information regarding all matters directly affecting these important documents.
The Bill, as introduced into Parliament, had side-notes, giving references to the Acts and decided cases, in view of which the sections were drawn. These were necessarily omitted on the passing of the Act. It has been thought that it might be useful to preserve a record of them, and a list has, accordingly, been given in the Appendix, with the number of the sections to which they were respectively appended.
I take this opportunity of thanking my friend, Mr. John Rankine, Advocate, for many valuable suggestions made by him, while assisting me in the revisal of the proof-sheets.
W. D. T.
EDINBURGH, 30th November, 1882.
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