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tions do not give particular directions on the subject, assent to or disallow it as he thinks proper. If he assent, it is proclaimed; and, unless it contain a clause suspending its operation till the pleasure of the Crown be known, it is then a perfect law of the colony, subject to be disallowed by the Sovereign in council at any time afterwards; for though the confirmation of the Crown be not necessary to give validity to the acts of the colonial Legislatures, unless they contain such suspending clause, yet the Sovereign may at pleasure disallow any act whatever. And by an order in council dated 15th of January 1800, it is declared that in all cases when the Sovereign's confirmation is necessary to give validity and effect to any act passed by the Legislature of any of the colonies or plantations belonging to the Crown, unless the Sovereign's confirmation thereof be obtained within three years from the passing such act in any of the said colonies or plantations, such act shall be considered as disallowed.
When an Act, whatever its nature or intended duration may be, has received the Governor's assent, it must within three months afterwards be transmitted to the Colonial Office in England, as also duplicates by the next conveyance, in order that it may be disallowed or confirmed, as may be necessary or expedient.
The administration of justice is regulated by the Act of the imperial Parliament of the 6 William IV.; and by an Island act of the 7 William IV. c. 16, the necessary provision is made for the same coming into operation in Barbados.
By a resolution of the House of Assembly adopted on the 22nd of January 1839, it was agreed to pass a bill to grant the sum of £2500 sterling, for the purpose of providing a salary for a Chief Justice of £2000 sterling per annum, and for the Attorney-General of £500 sterling; and this resolution is carried out by an act of the 4 Victoria, c. 10, by which a Chief Justice is appointed, who is invested with the jurisdiction, powers and authority of the several Judges of the Courts of Common Pleas, Exchequer and Grand Sessions. By the same act the Chief Justice is appointed to sit as assessor with the Governor in the Court of Chancery, and in all matters and causes which are contested in the Court of Ordinary also.
The Courts for the administration of civil justice are the Court of Chancery, the Court of Common Pleas, the Court of Exchequer, the Court of Ordinary, the Court of Admiralty, the Court of Error, and the Court of Escheat.
For the administration of criminal justice the courts are, the Court of Grand Sessions, and the Court of Admiralty Sessions.
For dealing summarily both with civil and criminal cases, police magistrates are appointed under Island acts; by 5 William IV. c. 3, and 6 William IV. c. 3, three are appointed for the city of Bridgetown; and by
7 William IV. c. 24, one for Holetown and Speightstown respectively; and by 2 Victoria, c. 12, provision is made for one for each parish in the island, those for Speightstown and Holetown being attached to the rural districts of St. Peter and St. James respectively. These magistrates exercise a jurisdiction in all matters cognizable by a Justice of the Peace; and from their decisions, or from that of any Justice of the Peace, an appeal lies to the Assistant Court of Appeal, created by an Island act of the 2 Victoria, c. 3, amended in some particulars by 2 Victoria, c. 8, and by 2 Victoria, c. 15, but not altered in its character or constitution, and which consists of three Justices of the Peace, who are named in a commission under the Great Seal of the Island; from that court an appeal lies to the Court of Error, which, for such purposes, is appointed by 5 Victoria, e. 23, to consist of the Governor and Chief Justice.
The Court of Chancery was formerly composed of the Governor or Commander-in-Chief for the time being, with four or more Members of the Council, the opinion of the majority being the decision; but by the statute 4 Victoria, c. 10, referred to above, it is enacted that the Chief Justice of the Island shall sit as assessor to the Governor or Commanderin-Chief as Chancellor, and the same authority is delegated to them as was formerly vested in the Governor or Commander-in-Chief and Council; with a provision that all writs, petitions, bills, proceedings and other process of and in the said Court of Chancery shall be filed and issued in the name of the Governor or Commander-in-Chief for the time being. It assumes and exercises jurisdiction in cases of lunacy, without any special delegation of authority, but under the supposed general jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery. This court has also occasionally exercised a jurisdiction in cases of alimony on the petition of a wife on account of misconduct on the part of the husband, when there has been no agreement for a separate maintenance1. Mr. Dwarris questions the jurisdiction, but thinks that if it is an encroachment, it is a necessary and useful one, there being no Ecclesiastical Court in Barbados. Injunctions are grantable by the Governor alone. The practice of this Court professes to conform to that of the Court of Chancery in England, except when it may be altered by local laws, or special rules of their own. There are above a hundred of these rules2, prescribed by the Court itself, written in a book kept by the registrar, often not at all known to persons practising in the profession. They in some instances establish a procedure different from the practice in England. Many of the early orders are rude and uncouth, some very obscure, and others ludicrous; the later ones, as far as they go, are generally wise and useful. The court sits
1 See Dwarris's Report, p. 34, edition 1827.
2 See them in Mr. Dwarris's First Report (laid before Parliament) on Civil and Criminal Justice in the West Indies, p. 243.
3 Mr. Dwarris's First Report, &c. p. 21.
generally on every fourth Thursday, but as its sittings are only held by adjournment, this rule meets with many exceptions, and the sittings of the court may be considered to be regulated by the amount of business and the convenience of parties concerned.
The Court of Common Pleas was formerly divided into five precincts, but these are now, by the Island act 5 Victoria, c. 30, consolidated into one, which is holden by the Chief Justice, and has cognizance of all pleas, and jurisdiction in all cases, as fully and amply in the island, as her Majesty's Courts of Common Pleas and Queen's Bench have in England. The sittings of the court are held in Bridgetown on the first Monday in January, March, May, July and September, and may continue until two o'clock on the Saturday afternoon following, if business require, otherwise it is adjourned to the next day in course. The Chief Justice is empowered, if occasion shall arise, to hold a court at any intermediate times, and to continue it for four days; and also to hold a court at any time for the despatch of such business as does not require the intervention of a jury, either at his chambers or at the usual court-house. The proceedings are regulated by those of the English courts, and especially by a set of rules promulgated by the Chief Justice in March 1842, in pursuance of the authority given by the 7th section of the Act referred to, and which rules embrace all that is necessary of the Regulæ Generales from Trin. term, 1 William IV., to Trin. term, 1 Victoria.
The Court of Exchequer derives its authority from the colonial acts, and is now in effect a court for the recovery of the debts of the Crown only, where informations for breach of the revenue laws are filed, and little other business is transacted. Formerly it had a more enlarged jurisdiction. This court however yet possesses another and very different authority; namely, for the relief of insolvent debtors. By the Island act, 5 Vic. c. 30. s. 11, this court is appointed to consist of and be holden by the Chief Justice already mentioned on the third Monday in January, March, May, July, and September, and to continue its sittings until two o'clock on the Saturday following if business shall require it, otherwise to be adjourned to the next day in course. The Chief Justice has power, when the Crown is interested in any matter or suit, to hold a court at the instance of the Attorney-General, or, in his absence, of the SolicitorGeneral, for the despatch of such business. The proceedings of this court are regulated by the practice of the English courts. An appeal lies from this court to the Court of Error; but the effect of such appeal seems not to be clearly understood in the colony: the best opinion is, that it stays all proceedings in the court below1.
The Court of Ordinary derives its authority by commission from the
1 See Mr. Dwarris's First Report, p. 32.
Crown. The Governor or President, being Commander-in-Chief of the island, is sole judge: he sits alone, except in controverted cases, where by the Act 4 Vic. c. 10, as cited above, the Chief-Justice is appointed to sit with him as assessor. The probate of wills, granting letters of administration and marriage licenses, form the subject matters of this court's jurisdiction. It sits at Government House as often as occasion requires. It is doubted' whether an appeal lies from this court to the Sovereign in council, or to the Sovereign as head of the Church.
The Court of Admiralty consists of two courts, a Prize and an Instance Court, both held by commission, issuing from the High Court of Admiralty in England; they possess the same jurisdiction as is exercised by the corresponding courts in England, as nearly as circumstances will permit. The Prize Court is held only in time of war. The cases in the Instance Court consist of seizures by the custom-house, seamen's wages, bottomry bonds, &c. &c.
By 8 and 9 Will. III. c. 22, s. 6, jurisdiction is supposed to be established in this court in all cases of unlawful importations and exportations, and all frauds on the sovereign in his customs, and all offences against the acts of trade. It has also jurisdiction in certain cases under the abolition and registry acts. It is held, as occasion requires, in the town-hall, or at any other place in the parish that the judge pleases. An appeal lies from the Instance side to the High Court of Admiralty in England; from the Prize side to the Sovereign in council. There is but one judge2, who is appointed from home, but in peace usually on the recommendation of the Governor.
The Court of Appeal and Error is composed of the Governor and Council, who decide by a majority.
The Escheat Court sits under a commission, and an ulterior appeal to the Sovereign in council is allowed when the value is £500. An EscheatorGeneral is appointed by the Governor, and the cases in which it has jurisdiction are commonly forfeitures to the Crown for want of heirs.
The Court of Grand Sessions is held by a commission of Oyer and Terminer and General Jail Delivery issued by the Governor or, Commander-in-Chief addressed to the Chief Justice, and, by the Act referred to before, 5 Vic. c. 30, is appointed to sit three times at least in each year, on the first Monday of April, the first Monday of August, and the second Monday of December; it is at liberty to continue its sittings until two o'clock of the Wednesday week next following3, if all the cases for trial be not disposed of before that time. The judgement would appear to be final, except with the consent of the Attorney-General'; but the
1 See Mr. Dwarris's First Report, p. 43.
* At present the Chief Justice holds the situation.
3 This is by an Act passed in the 7th Vic. c. 16.
Governor has the power to pardon or reprieve, except in case of treason and murder, when he can only reprieve pro tempore, and send the case home.
The Admiralty Sessions are held by a separate commission for the trial of murder, piracy and other offences committed on the high seas. This court is composed of the Judge of the Admiralty, who presides, assisted by one or more gentlemen, who are either members of council, flag-officers or captains on the station. The sessions are held as often as occasion requires, but by a recent Act of the 7 Vic. c. 25, all offences committed on the high seas within three miles of the mainland, may be tried by the chief judge named and appointed in any commission of Oyer and Terminer and General Jail Delivery.
The law of Barbados is the common law of England, and as much of the statute law of England as was in existence at the time of the settlement of the colony, except when either of them is inapplicable to the circumstances of the island, or the latter is altered by local enactments. The law of mortmain it is said does not run in Barbados. The local Acts are comprised in three compilations by Messrs. Hall, Moore, and Taylor, respectively; these are now undergoing revision by a commission appointed for that purpose, with a view to their being consolidated and republished in a more convenient form.
As respects the practisers of the law in Barbados, it is required that gentlemen admitted to practise as counsel there shall previously have been called to the bar in England; and it is necessary for gentlemen applying to act as attorneys or solicitors in the island, to produce a certificate of having served a clerkship for five years either in England or the West Indies; and a testimonial of good character must be signed by two barristers, which is usually done by the Attorney and Solicitor-General. They then receive a commission from the Governor, are formally admitted, and take the prescribed oath in every court in which they intend to practise.