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The principle contained in this doctrine has received the most ample confirmation in a particular instance by the determination of the Court of B. R. in a recent case, Mich. 59 Geo. 3. Orders had been made for diverting a footway pursuant to 55 Geo. 3. c. 68. by two justices at a Special Session, holden on Tuesday, the 15th September, the precept for which had been issued by them to the high constable only the preceding Saturday, and the notices of which were given by such constable to the justices acting for, and residing within, the division in which the footway was situate, only the preceding Monday. After the order was made, the several notices prescribed by the act were duly given. At the subsequent Quarter Session, the order was returned to the clerk of the peace in open court, and application made that it might be confirmed and enrolled, there being no appeal against it. The Quarter Session refused to grant the motion, on the ground that sufficient notice of the time and place of holding the Special Session had not been given to the justices of the limits within which the footway was situate. A mandamus was moved for to compel the justices to confirm this order; and it was strongly contended in the argument in support of such motion, that a Special Session was merely a special sitting of justices, of which no notice is necessary.

The court, however, was unanimously of opinion that there were two questions in this case :— 1st, Whether any notice was necessary; and, 2dly, Whether, supposing it to be so, sufficient notice was given in this case? The 55 Geo. 3. by the authority of which the justices proceeded in this case, recites the 13th Geo. 3. c. 78. and although it repeals a particular section of it, it incorporates many of ment to discover, that to have left any judicial determinations, on some of these, or the like occasions, to the decision of a Petty Session, properly so called, (that is, to a meeting of any two justices who might be privately convened,) would have been, in many cases at least, to have made the custos rotulorum, or some other great landed proprietor, who had perhaps a pre-erninent interest in the subject to be decided, to all intents and purposes, (from the controuling influence he may reasonably be supposed to possess) the judge in his own cause.

its provisions, and enacts that the justices, by their order, may divert and turn the ways therein mentioned, " by such ways and means, and subject to such exceptions and conditions, in all respects, as are in the said recited act mentioned, with regard to highways to be diverted, &c.” The statute thus referred to expressly provides, by the 62d section, that the justices may hold a Special Session for the purposes of that act, causing notice to be given of the time and place of holding, &c. to the several justices acting and residing within the limits. A notice then was necessary under the very words of the act; and if necessary, it must be reasonable notice, which this was not.*

The above cited case indeed only recognizes in terms the doctrine contended for, so far as it was applicable to the question immediately before the court, and there, this construction of the law was provided for by the special words of the statute, out of which the transaction arose: but what is submitted here, is, that this statute only adopts the language, and fortifies the practice, (somewhat more specifically indeed,) of what was the law before; a law arising out of the nature, and absolutely necessary for the due

performance, of the duty imposed ; and that the same principle pervades the whole system of convening Special Sessions.

An unaccountableconfusion has indeed prevailed in almost all writers on the subject of Sessions, respecting the distinction between Specialand Petty Sessions. Barlow mentions but three distinctions of Sessions, viz: Quarterly, General, and Special ; omitting altogether Petty Sessions. But he admits that Special Sessions are sessions specially convened to execute some particular branch of the authority of justices of the peace. Even so late as the Commentaries of Blackstone, scarcely any discrimination is made in treating of their respective duties, or even in the occasions for which they are summoned, or in the manner of summoning them, although there be a general recognition of the doctrine here insisted on, respecting their distinct and separate jurisdictions.t

* R. v. Worcestershire (Justices), 2 Barn and Ald. 228. * 4 Black. Com. 273.

The place where such Special Session is to be holden, Place to be must also be specified in the notices; and this any of the pecified in

. persons who have authority to convene them, have also the necessary authority to decide, so that it be a place within their jurisdiction. In this all the writers on the subject seem agreed. *

GENERAL Sessions. These differ from Special Sessions, General. in as much as, although they are specially summoned, they are not for the execution of any particular branch of the justices' authority, or for any particular business exclusively, but for all general purposes for which Quarter Sessions are directed to be holden. If convened for any special purpose therefore, and general purposes are intended to be excluded, however custom may have sanctioned the miscalling them General Sessions in common parlance, they are in fact only Special Sessions. They differ from Quarter Sessions, inasmuch as they are not limited to any particular time, but are directed to be holden “so often as need be." +

They may be convened by the custos rotulorum, and any How conone other of the justices; or by any two justices within the vened. jurisdiction, one being of the quorum, by precept to the sheriff to summon such Session, to return a jury, and give notice throughout his bailywick to all persons whose duty it is to attend, for the general execution of their authority. I

And that the sheriff may have sufficient time to proclaim the sessions, to summon and return the several juries, and to warn all officers and others that have business there to attend;-the precept should bear teste, (or date) fifteen Teste of the days before the return, and ought forthwith to be delivered precept. to the sheriff. $

And if two such justices make a precept for a General Session of the Peace, all their fellow justices cannot discharge it by their supersedeas; nor can it be discharged, How dis

charged. but by a supersedeas out of Chancery directed to the sheriff. • Dalt. c. 185.-Lamb. 382, and 623. + 2 Hen. 5. st. 1. c. 4.-Ilawk. C. 8. Lamb. 382.-Hawk. c. 8. 2 Shaw's Just. 174.

ll Lamb. 375.-Cromp. 107.

Directions in the Commission for

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But it is not sufficient for the convening a General Ses

sion of the Peace, that the precept run under the name of the Precept. one justice only, even though it be that of the custos

rotulorum, for the words of the mandamus clause in the Commission are “that the sherif shall cause a jury to appear at such days and places, as the said justices, or any two or more of them, as aforesaid, shall

appoint. Where there is It should appear that though there be no precept in no precept. .

writing to the sheriff, or an irregular precept, yet if a Session be actually holden, the proceedings had there will be good. No persons can be compelled to attend, if no precept be issued; but if they do in fact attend, and the duties of a Session be regularly performed, the irregularity

in convening it is cured thereby. + Where there It has been doubted whether, if two or more sets of are two or more precepts. justices appoint two or more General Sessions, to be

holden at the same time, any, or all, and which of them, are good. But such an event may happen without either mistake or misbehaviour in the justices; and there seems to be no reason why all such Sessions should not be legal and of equal authority.

Appearance, and service, at any one of them, would, indeed, in that case, operate as a discharge of service at the others. I But the arguments that have been used to shew that such duplicates of Sessions would themselves be illegal, have been drawn from a supposed analogy to the

* Lamb. 377. This furnishes a further illustration of the reason why the authority for summoning a Special Session need not be the same as that required for summoning a General Session ; viz., that in the former case no precept goes to the sheriff, because no jury is to be summoned, but only to the chief constable to summon the parties and such other persons inmediately connected with their jurisdiction, the presence of whom may be required. In the latter the precept is directed to be sent to the sheriff, by the same instrument which confers on the justice the authority of a court of criminal jurisdiction, and which renders a jury, and all the other appendages of such a tribunal, imperatively necessary. † 2 Ld. Raym. 1938.

Com. Dig. tit. Just.

cases of Special Sessions, and those too directed by statute, which do not apply.*

But if such precepts were multiplied wantonly or for Precepts issued sinister purposes, the Justices issuing them would subject from improper themselves to be punished by information in B. R. or by having their commissions superseded by the Lord Chancellor.

GENERAL QUARTER SESSIONS, are such Sessions as Quarterly. are regularly holden every quarter of a year, under the authority of statute.

The 12 Rich. 2. c. 10. directs, that “the justices shall By 12 Rich. 2. keep their Sessions in every quarter of the year at least, and by three days, if need be, on pain of being punished according to the discretion of the king's council, at the suit of every man that will complain.”

And by 2 Hen. 5. st. 1. c. 4. the particular time in Quarters desig. every quarter of a year shall be as follows; “ to wit, in the gated by

2 5. first week after the feast of St. Michael, in the first week after the Epiphany, in the first week after the clause of Easter; and in the first week after the translation of St. Thomas the Martyr (Thomas a Becket), and more often if need be."

A recent statute, I however, after reciting that it would contribute to the convenience of those who have to attend them, if the time of holding the Michaelmas Quarter Sessions were altered, directs that for the future “ all Quarter Sessions for the Michaelmas Quarter shall in every year be holden, for every county, riding, division, city, borough and place, within England and Wales, and for Berwick-upon-Tweed, in the first week after the eleventh day of October, instead of at the time now appointed for holding the same; and that all acts, matters and things, done, performed and transacted, at the time appointed by this act for holding the said Michaelmas Quarter Sessions, shall be as valid and binding, to all intents and purposes, as if the same had been done, performed, and transacted, at the time heretofore appointed for the holding of such Sessions."

• 4 Term Rep. 451.

54 Geo. 3. c. 84.

† Dalt. c. 185.


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