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whether as counsel, or attorney and of the importance of a familiarity solicitor,-every student for the bar, with this great little volume; and and every attorney's clerk-who can for that purpose shall proceed to inafford to expend upon the book the dicate its scope and character, as disalmost nominal sum at which it is, tinctly and fully as is consistent with in our opinion, very wisely pub- our space. lished. It ought to be at once And first of all, every member of made a text-book whereon English the Legislature-of both Houses of law is taught-at the universities, Parliament—will find his account Inns of Court, and elsewhere. We in a careful perusal of the Handy know, indeed, nothing of the kind Book, and that beyond the guidance to compare with it as a means of which it will afford each in the testing, by examination, the actual management of his own property. progress of a student in legal know- How frequently alterations in the ledge. It will suggest questions very law affecting that property are atdifferent from those which are mere tempted, and from time to time efechoes of ordinary law-books. Here fected—the scope of which is but let us mention that Lord St Leonards inadequately apprehended must has judiciously abstained from citing be obvious to every lay member of a single authority or law-case.* It the Legislature; and yet these alterwould have been perfectly idle to do ations are usually of as great, as perso, he himself states, for the general manent, importance. Here he may reader, whose eye would be only use- see, in half or a quarter of a page's lessly irritated by incessant refer- space, the pith and marrow of bulky ences from the body of the text to blue-books, the very sight of which the bottom of the page. All, there- is discouraging, as a fair acquaintfore – both lawyers and laymen- ance with their contents is expected, must be content to rely on the mere by the country, of its hereditary and statements of so great an authority, representative legislators. Take as --so celebrated for his rigorous accu- an instance the subject of a General racy-of what the law is. Young Registration of Title, with reference lawyers, however, we strongly re- to the Sale and Transfer of Land. commend to have their copies inter- During the last session (1857) a Blue leaved, and then hunt out, and Book appeared on this subject, exnote down, the leading authorities for tending to 457 closely-printed folio themselves-than which there can- pages, consisting of the Report of the not be a more profitable expenditure Commissioners appointed to inquire of time and labour. The very into that intricate question, together scheme of the Handy Book sug- with the Evidence on which the regested the necessity of elementary port is founded. In the eighth instruction ; inasmuch as Lord St Letter of the Handy Book will be Leonards professedly aims at lay seen, compressed into three pages, the readers, who, without such instruc- opinion of Lord St Leonards, who tion, could not comprehend or ap- says, “I have often directed my atpreciate the scope of the work. tention to the expediency of a general That elementary instruction the law registry ; and my settled conviction student also will find of the highest is, that it would not be advisable.” value, especially in respect of those What member of either House would great statutory changes in the law of not wish to become acquainted with property effected during the last few the reasons assigned by so eminent years—often by the noble author an authority, with a terseness equalled himself--and which are here ex- only by the force and plainness with plained briefly, and with lucid accu- which those reasons are conveyed ? racy.
Here, also, will be seen his account of It is, however, the lay reader whom the new plan now on foot," I and a we are most anxious to make aware sketch of that which he himself would
It is, however, otherwise with the titles of the leading Acts of Parliament to which he refers, and on which he comments often very elaborately, though not at length. + Handy Book, p. 54.
# Ibid., p. 55.
substitute for it. This he embodied pent at leisure ? and enjoy for that in a bill, read a second time in the purpose a seven, if not a fourteen or House of Lords during the last ses- twenty-one years' pleasing interval, sion; and one of the essential features and with quarterly mementoes of the of it-that for rendering vendors, relationship between them? How their solicitors and agents, criminally many of these reciprocally hating responsible for concealing inherit parties would not give more than a
or falsifying pedigrees*—has trifle never to have seen or heard of been discreetly appropriated by the each other, or the mansion, house, Lord Chancellor, in an analogous bill warehouse, coach-house, stable, cotjust introduced by himself.
tage, land of every description, which The other instance occurs to us in now form the bond of delectable the case of the relief of honest trus- union? Let every person contemtees from such rules of equity as at plating this relation, take the trouble present press too heavily on them, of first reading carefully “the few especially since the Fraudulent Trus- instructions and cautions as to leases," tee Act of the last session. We learn which will be found in Letter XV., from the Handy Book + that Lord extending to little more than six St Leonards endeavoured to deal pages; while the next, of not four with this matter during the last ses- pages, explains, as clearly as daylight, sion, by a bill which passed the House the provisions of the recent importof Lords, and was postponed in the ant Act, I " to facilitate leases and House of Commons only at the end sales of settled estates ;" superseding of the session. The general scope of the necessity of costly Parliamentary the measure will be found explained interposition on such occasions, and in the twenty-second Letter. Though which ought, says Lord St Leonards, more might be said upon this subject, “to be known by every owner of a thus much must suffice for the value settled estate in the kingdom.” $ In of this book to laymen, in their Par- these Letters good advice is offered to liamentary capacities. To them, in each party, as usual with this unique such capacity, nothing else extant will common friend. supply the place of this book. We have Perhaps our lessee, though of now, however, to deal with them also but a cottage, and that a very in their private capacities. Every one small one, would be pleased by hearof them is, or ought to be, possessed ing that he may also become, himof property, in one shape or other, to self, an owner of property : that the extent of at least £300 a-year : at
there is a mode in which a man least every honourable member of the may acquire real property without Lower House, with one or two ex- paying for it, or receiving it as a gift, ceptions, is estopped from denying or receiving it by descent. This, at such to be his own fortunate case ! first sight,” says the welcome inforAlmost every member of the upper mant, may appear singular to classes, almost every member of the you." || But is it not also equally middle classes, and very large sec- interesting ? No encouragement, tions of those who are somewhat ca- however, is here held out to "poor, valierly called the lower classes, are and ignorant, and sometimes crafty almost from necessity either possess persons
- the latter generally suped of, or interested in, property : for porting the former, where they think which of them that has a house over they can work upon the credulity his head, is not a LESSEE, or a LESSOR, of mankind.” What, then, it may unless, as the Irishman said, he is his be asked, would our Mentor be own tenant? It is often said of an- at ? He is pointing, in Letter other sort of contract, marry in XXIII., to rights acquired by Adhaste and repent at leisure :” and how VERSE POSSESSION, which signifies, often may it not also be said, take, or as here excellently defined," a posbecome a tenant in a hurry, and re- session, by a person not being the
* Handy Book, p. 56, note.
+ Letter XXI., p. 163. # 19 & 20 Vict., c. 120. Note. It extends to Ireland. § Handy Book, p. 105.
|| Ibid., p. 177.
owner, during a certain number of reference to property, of husband years, without acknowledgment of and wife, parent and child, and trusthe right by the real owner, and yet tees. Before, however, entering on not necessarily in open defiance of this great field of inquiry, the reader's him.” What shall be said of the attention should be directed to the disinterested sagacity which shows Tenth Letter, which, with great one party how he has acquired pos- deference to Lord St Leonards, we session of another man's property by think might perhaps have formed these means; and the other party, the Second,-being of a preliminary how he ought to have acted, and nature,—consisting of “a slight pomay act in future, in order to pre- pular sketch-just a notion-of the vent such furtive acquisition ? As the various ordinary interests which you author writes for the million, he does have acquired, or may acquire, in not use Latin ; but the initiated see real property.”+ Starting furnished a certain maxim of “ vigilantibus, with slender but sterling information non dormientibus jura subvenient" on this subject, let us come to the running through much of this chap- Eighth, which deals with the SALE ter; and we advise all whom it may AND PURCHASE of real property in all concern to ponder a passage in it, its modifications; and into the space which intimates that the provisions of sixty pages, this great artist has of certain specified recent statutes contrived to condense, in language so "place landed proprietors in danger luminous that he who runs may read, of rapidly losing portions of their the essence of that great treatise on property, particularly where they Vendors and Purchasers, which has have allowed friends or dependents been the household book of every to occupy parts of it without pay- lawyer, judicial and professional, for ment of any rent. In many cases it the last half-century. In our last will be found that the statute * has February number we gave a popular transferred the fee-simple to the account of this vast storehouse of occupier !”. As Letter XXIII. is property law; and we hesitate not occupied with adverse possession of to say that these sixty pages would the estate itself, so is the brief ensu- be cheaply purchased by sixty times ing one, Letter XXIV., with statu- the trifling price at which the whole tory limitation put upon proceedings of the Haudy Book has been offered to recover CHARGES on the estate, to the public. Here are explained, in by mortgage, judgment, lien, or other- few and weighty words, the law rewise; while the last Letter (XXV.) gulating the conduct of private and resumes the subject of rights acquired public sales of every kind; the by possession. Here the author first minutely ramified rights and duties of shows how no man can, by adverse buyer and seller, and their respective possession, be deprived of his Church agents and representatives, and that in patronage, if he exercise but ordinary point of honour and honesty, as well as vigilance; and then proceeds to un;
at law and in equity; the contingencies fold, with equal brevity and clearness, which every prudent person should the mode in which rights of COMMON, contemplate and provide against, and and rights to Light, WATER, WAYS, the information he should ask for on and other easements may be gained, the one hand, and on the other has or lost. Thus much for the acquisi- a right to withhold, or is, or is not, tion, albeit stealthily, of rights by bound to volunteer. The suggestions simple possession, to the property offered under these heads are invaluitself, of indolent or thoughtless able; but all we can do here is to owners, or of easements over that offer one or two specimens of them, property.
premising that the first of these eight Fifteen Letters are devoted to Letters exhibits a masterly outthe extensive and complicated sub- line of the existing distinctions be jects of sales, mortgages, settlements, tween law and equity, as administerleases, and wills; five to the respec- ed in this country with reference to tive relations and characters, with property; and the nature of that
* 3 & 4 Will. IV., c. 27.
+ Handy Book, p. 63.
fusion of the two which has of late plying to them ; for in some instances found some favour in this country. the card or paper expressly states that The leading principles which govern the agent is to be paid his commission courts of equity in dealing with such although the sale should not be conductmatters, are sketched, it may surelyed by him, if it is effected through any be said, authoritatively, being by one
information afforded by him,' and dealwho has, in the marble chair, adjudi- ing with the agent after such a notice cated according to them in questions is not prudent to answer the inquiry, by
would, I fear, bind you to his terms. It involving millions sterling:
an agent whom you have not employed, After telling a seller “what truths whether your property is to be let or he must disclose,” the buyer may start sold ; for an incautious answer might on hearing the aforesaid seller told justify him in placing your property on “what falsehoods he may utter in his books, and making you, in the result, regard to his estates.” * This seems liable for some compensation to him, pretty well in its way, but we must although you really employ and pay
another man." S not imagine our great lawyer to be not also a strict moralist. For Here is a valuable caution to perin the ensuing Letter I he there ad- sons about to insure against fire, acdresses the buyer : “When you know companied by a taste of personal exhow far an unprincipled seller may, perience on the part of the astute with safety, go, you can guard against ex-Chancellor :fraud by not trusting to misrepresen
“ A word of advice about your Fire tations which are made without fear
Insurance. Very few policies against of retribution, which alters the
fire are so framed as to render the comaspect of the whole case, and simply pany legally liable. Generally the proseis a buyer on his guard against perty is inaccurately described with rethose reckless exaggerations and mis- ference to the conditions under which statements which, if so disposed, an you insure. They are framed by the unprincipled seller may make with company, who probably are not unwill. impunity, as far as relates to earthly ing to have a legal defence against any tribunals.
claim, as they intend to pay what they How many vexatious law-suits and deem a just claim, without taking advanlosses might have been avoided by tage of any technical objection, and to
make use of their defence only against attending to what follows, any reader may judge for himself, or ask the although they may not be able to prove
what they may believe to be a fraud, first lawyer of any experience that he it. But do not rely upon the moral meets with.
feelings of the directors. Ascertain that “You will find it necessary to make a your house falls strictly within the concontract with your auctioneer, in order ditions. Even baving the surveyor of to aroid heavy charges. And you should the company to look over your house stipulate that no custom of the trade is before the ivsurance, will not save you, to authorise any charge not provided for unless your policy is correct. To illusby your contract. You should provide trate this, I will tell you what happened for both cases-viz. the sale and the non- to myself. I have two houses in different sale of the property. If you employ parts of the country, both of which open more agents than one, you should ex. from a drawing-room by a glass-door pressly stipulate with each of them, that into a conservatory. The one I had inthe commission shall be paid to the eured, for a good many years, from the agent only of whom the purchase is time I built it; the other I had insured, made, or you may have also to pay large for a few years, from the time I bought commissions to the other agents for what it, in the same office, when a partial fire is termed finding a purchaser. You should broke out in the latter house, and I was carefully read the card or paper with then told by the office—a highly respectwhich they usually supply persons ap- able one—that my policy was void, as the
* Handy Book, p. 17.
† At p. 32 we have a pretty clear indication of the stern morality of our legal teacher. * If after employing a man to bid, you should be so dishonest” (the italics are in the text] “as to deny the authority (in seeking instruction you must not quarrel with your master's mode of conveying it !)" &c. I P. 24.
& P. 24,
opening to the conservatory rendered it possession from that period, the title
And here we take leave of our
and the objec- Lender. This, the Fourteenth, is tionable stoves, &c., were not noticed. the longest of the Letters, and relates Of course I had the reference to the re- to a subject of commensurate importport struck out, and the policy made ance and difficulty—that of MORTcorrect, but not without some personal
GAGES. The rights and duties of each trouble. I state these circumstances, to
party to their contract are sketched show you how careful you should be. I
with our author's characteristic pregadvise you to look at once at your exist
nant brevity. Here follows a practiing policy. If you have added an Arnot's stove,or inade any other important change cal hint, backed by an anecdote worth in your mode of heating your house, since remembering :your policy, or you had at the time of “ Pay the money yourself to the mortyour policy any peculiar stove, &c. not gagee, and see the deed executed. Do noticed in the policy, you should call not pay the money to the person bringing upon the company to admit the validity the deed, although executed and the reof your policy, by an endorsement on ceipt signed, unless by the written autho. it."
rity of the borrower ; for the mere pos
session of the deed by the solicitor or Many a buyer and many a seller agent will give him no authority to remay perhaps feel special interest in ceive the money. It is not safe in all the following significant paragraph, cases to rely on mortgages apparently and catch a crumb of comfort from duly executed, and brought to you by the promise half held out by Lord St the regular man of business of the borLeonards.
rower, to whom it bas been delivered by
your solicitor to get it executed by his “One great complaint at the present client the borrower. Unhappily, I have day, is the necessity of carrying back known more instances than one of forged abstracts of title for sixty years. This mortgages having been delivered to an period I hope to persuade the Legislature unsuspecting lender. In one case, the to shorten. But still the want of confi. lender and his solicitors were assembled, dence is frequently, nay, constantly, the waiting for the mortgage deed, which cause of the expense upon every occasion was to be brought duly executed by the of examining a long and complicated solicitor of the supposed borrower, who title : for if I bought an estate ten years was confined to his bed by illness; and ago, which I am now offering for sale, at length tired with waiting, a messenger and then had the title sifted by competent was just being despatched to the supcounsel, with the aid of an equally com- posed borrower's house, when the solici. petent solicitor, and have the opinion of tor, who had evidently been delayed in the counsel, and the result of the searches concocting the forged deed and its attes. to show to the new purchaser, it might tations, arrived with the deed executed be supposed that, upon proof of the title and attested, and received the money. since the purchase, and of my undisturbed He escaped detection at the moment, but