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ART. VII.--LEGAL EDUCATION-ITS PRESENT STATE
RIOR to the long vacation just terminated, an important
question, bearing on the system of Legal Education for the Bar, was, as we are informed on competent authority, formally submitted to the consideration of the Bench of Lincolu's Inn, and, as it would appear to us, somewhat precipitately decided. The main question thus mooted and discussed in that very learned body was neither more nor less than this—Is the institution of a compulsory examination preliminary to proceeding to the degree of Barrister-at-Law expedient, or is it not ? --and this was carried (so, at least, it is rumoured through the profession) in the negative — whether by an overwhelming majority or otherwise we are not informed.
Deeply deploring the decision arrived at by the influential Society above named, and firm in our belief, for reasons heretoforel sufficiently set forth, that, with a view to resuscitating and raising the status of the Bar, the test of fitness afforded by a combined oral and written examination is essential, we do not hesitate to express a hope that the Inns of Court may nevertheless continue to act in concert, and with that unanimity which has for some years prevailed in their councils, to uphold the existing system of Legal Education, which, though susceptible of much improvement, has thus faro worked efficiently and well. Nor do we make this remark with any apprehension that amongst the benchers of Lincoln's Inn, or of any other of the learned societies, there exists a feeling of hostility to the system now in force, but rather lest it might, from our silence, be inferred that the advocates of a compulsory examination would hesitate as to accepting ad interim the concessions made to them, or would forego a part because they cannot as yet obtain the whole.
See article on the Inns of Court Commission, Law Mag. vol. lv. p. 76, ? We must remind our readers that the present system was established in 1852.
Throughout the correspondence touching the subject now before us, which has appeared in the columns of a leading journal during the past recess, we have particularly noticed that no doubt has been suggested in regard to one point, viz., that the course of study sanctioned during the last few years by the Inns of Court has already been productive of good; and we have ourselves received from independent sources
so much evidence to a like effect,—evidence wholly impartial and free from bias or suspicion,—that we may, without fear of contradiction, assume the truth to be so. Greatly do we lament that those in the higher ranks of the profession, who are opposed, or, may be, indifferent, to the maintenance of the lectures, public and private, delivered in the halls of our ancient Inns, abstain from satisfying themselves by personal investigation of the truth or fallacy of the convictions which, we doubt not conscientiously, they entertain. None such, as we think, would fail to be surprised at the degree of interest daily manifested by the students in the topics handled by the reader, and the amount of ready and accurate knowledge which they display. What we now say is not put forth idly, or in a spirit of exaggeration, or without much thought. It is a fact that in some of the classes --at which, be it remembered, the attendance is wholly volun. tary-legal questions, difficult and complex in their nature, have from time to time been discussed by the students in the presence of the reader with an ability and real auguring well for their attainment of professional distinction hereafter, and evidencing the actual possession of goodly stores of knowledge. Even at the public lectures, at which the attendance is compulsory, the minute and copious notes which are systematically taken by the majority of the audience indicate at once a desire on their part to obtain information upon legal subjects, and a confidence in the means of doing so afforded. We shall not, however, dwell longer upon this subject, for those to whom we would now more especially address ourselves—the benchers of the Inns of Court-have it within their own power to test the truth of what we say; and if doubtful respecting it, we earnestly hope that they may do so. In the mean time, it is our duty, in the pages of a periodical which has identified itself with the cause of educational reform, to impress upon the minds of our readers this fact, that beneficial results have followed from the system of lectures and voluntary examinations now in force; and we may add that these results would hereafter be augmented by the occasional supervision of the ruling bodies of our learned societies, and by some more direct recognition from their component members of what is being done with their consent.
We know not whether Government, in the approaching session, will be prepared with any broad and comprehensive scheme for consolidating the profession of the law, and erecting for it, upon a firm and enduring basis, a Legal University. We have no expectation that this will be so, nor do we think that any independent member of the House-gifted though he be, like the ex-Attorney-General for Ireland, with eloquence and sound learning, and like him ardently desirous of elevating the status of our profession-can hope for success in such a task. Ere achieving this great end, difficulties of no ordinary magnitude must be overcome, enhanced, as we think, by the claims not unduly put forward by our brethren of the Irish Bar, as well as by the Law Society, to be included in the projected corporation. But though we are not sanguine as to anything being done during the next session for the cause of Legal Education, we feel satisfied that it will eventually triumph; and whilst awaiting the arrival of that epoch, it is encouraging to know that, slowly and partially though it be, yet surely, knowledge, taught on broader principles than are ordinarily enunciated in a pleader's chambers,' is being disseminated amongst the students of our Inns of Court, and transmitted to the juniors of the Bar.
· Let it not be supposed that by this remark any disrespect is intended towards the learned persons here designated. Those, however, who have “had the run” of a pleader's chambers, well know that, in the hurry of business, few cases can be completely sifted in a manner satisfactory to the tyro, and yet seldomer can the mode of applying general principles, which are quite familiar to the preceptor, be explained.
ART. VIII. PAPERS OF THE SOCIETY FOR PRO.
MOTING THE AMENDMENT OF THE LAW.
REPORT OF THE JUDICIAL TRIBUNALS AND PROCEDURE COM
MITTEE ON THE LAW RELATING TO JUDGMENT CREDITORS.
Ordered to be taken into consideration on June 9, 1856.
T has been referred to your Committee to consider the expe
diency of further extending to the Courts of Common Law the equitable jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery. This subject embraces so wide a field, that they have thought it best to confine their attention on the present occasion to one group of cases; and have chosen for that purpose the rights and remedies of creditors, as being those of perhaps most frequent occurrence in practice—and of them, those of Judgment Creditors, as the first which present themselves in a logical exhaustion of the subject.
The Judgment Debtor is assumed to be living, a sole debtor, neither bankrupt nor insolvent, and the creditor to be a subject.
Your Committee have endeavoured, in the resolutions at which they have arrived, to keep steadily in view the object of assimilating the doctrines of law and equity in relation to a Judgment Creditor's rights, and (as far as may be consistently with the existing separate systems of law and equity) of assimilating his remedies also.
If this appear a small branch of a great work, let it be remembered that it is intended but as a specimen of what still remains to be done; and that it is, by an application, in detail, to particular classes of cases of the principle of Fusion, to which your Society already stands pledged, that the benefit of its more general adoption can best be tested, and perhaps most effectually secured.
With regard to the rights of Judgment Creditors, your Committee cannot but regard it as an anomaly deserving of instant redress, that any species of property should be protected in any one court, or set of courts, from claims to which it is liable in another; and that different canons of construction should be upheld at Law and in Equity; that (to illustrate the former class of anomalies) equities of redemption and trusts of personalty should not be reached at Law by a judgment creditor as well as in Equity, or (to illustrate the latter) that the first taker of personalty should, notwithstanding the intention of the grantor to the contrary, be deemed the absolute owner of it at Law; or that a chose in action should not be assignable at Law as it is in Equity.
With a view to correct these evils your Committee have framed the subjoined resolutions, numbered 1 and 2.
With regard to remedies, it appears to your Committee monstrous that a Judgment Creditor, that is to say, one who has already by a suit really hostile, or by a proceeding to which are attributed all the effects of a hostile suit, arrived at the end of a trial, and therewith acquired certain rights to property, should have to begin his suit, as it were, all over again in another tribunal ; that a Judgment Creditor, for example, strictly so called, should have to sue in Equity for a declaration of his rights and for sale. Your Committee are of opinion that this evil may be in a great measure, if not wholly, cured by granting to Courts of Law those powers of sale which a Court of Equity now possesses. Resolution No. 1 will also, if adopted, effect this.
The same evil, though to a less extent, prevails in the inability of Courts of Law to enforce the charging orders which nevertheless they alone are empowered to grant! This applies to the case of Government stock and shares in public companies belonging to the Judgment Debtor, whether held in trust for him or not, and whether in possession or not. Resolution ·No. 3 has been framed to correct this.
Again, a Judgment Creditor's legal remedies, such as they are, are immediate; but he must wait a whole year for his equitable remedies before he can charge land, or half a year before he can charge stock.
Your Committee see no reason for this distinction, and have accordingly, by resolution No. 4, recommended the universal adoption of the legal rule.