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THE NEWFOUNDLAND ACT, 1824. 5 GEO. IV.,
CAP. 67, (IMPERIAL).
An Act for the better Administration of Justice in Newfoundland, and for other purposes.
[17th June 1824.]
'Whereas it is expedient to make further Provision for the Administration of Justice in the Colony of Newfoundland;' Be it therefore enacted by the King's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same, That it shall and may be lawful for His Majesty, by His Charter or Letters Patent under the Great Seal, to institute a Superior Court of Judicature in Newfoundland which shall be called "The Supreme Court of Newfoundland;" and the said Court shall be a Court of Record, and shall have all Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction whatever in Newfoundland, and in all Lands, Islands and Territories dependant upon the Government thereof, as fully and amply, to all Intents and Purposes, as His Majesty's Courts of King's Bench, Common Pleas, Exchequer and High Court of Chancery, in that Part of Great Britain called England, have, or any of them hath; and the said Supreme Court shall also be a Court of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol Delivery in and for Newfoundland, and all Places within the Government thereof; and shall also have Jurisdiction in all Cases of Crimes and Misdemeanors committed on the Banks of Newfoundland, or any of the Seas or Islands to which Ships or Vessels repair from Newfoundland for carrying on the Fishery.
II. And be it further enacted, That the said Supreme Court shall be holden by a Chief Judge and Two Assistant Judges, being respectively Barristers in England or Ireland of at least Three Years standing, or in some of His Majesty's Colonies or Plantations, who shall be appointed to such their Offices by His Majesty, His Heirs and Successors: Provided always, that it shall be lawful for His Majesty, His Heirs and Successors, from time to time as Occasion may require, to remove and displace any such Chief Judge or Assistant Judge as aforesaid, and in his Stead to appoint any other fit and proper Person, being a Barrister as aforesaid, to be the Chief Judge or Assistant Judge of the said Court, as the Case may be: And provided also, that in case any such Chief Judge or Assistant Judge shall be absent from Newfoundland, or die, or resign such his Office, or by reason of Sickness or otherwise shall become incapable of performing the Duties thereof, then and in every such
Case it shall be lawful for the Governor or Acting Governor of Newfoundland for the Time being, to nominate and appoint some fit and proper Person to act as Chief Judge or Assistant Judge, as the Case may be, in the Place or Stead of the Judge so being absent, dying, resigning his office or becoming incapable of performing the Duties thereof, until such Judge shall resume the Duties of his Office, or until a Successor shall be appointed by His Majesty, His Heirs and Successors; and the said Chief Judge and Assistant Judges shall respectively have and exercise such and the like Powers and Authorities in Newfoundland, and in all Places dependant upon the Government thereof, as any Judge of any of His Majesty's said Courts of King's Bench, Common Pleas and Exchequer, or as the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, hath or exercises in England.
III. And be it further enacted, That all Issues of Fact which may be joined between the Parties in any Action at Law originally brought before the said Supreme Court of Record, or which may be joined upon any Criminal Information or Prosecution depending in that Court, shall be tried at the Town of Saint John's in the Island of Newfoundland, by a Jury of Twelve Men; Appointment of and for the Purpose of hearing and trying all Suits, Actions and all Informations, Prosecutions and other Proceedings, of what Nature or Kind soever, which may be brought or commenced in the said Supreme Court, One or more Term or Terms, or Session or Sessions of the said Court, shall be held at, the Town of Saint John's aforesaid, in each Year, by the said Chief Judge and Assistant Judges, at such Times as the Governor or Acting Governor of the said Colony shall from time to time, by any Proclamation to be by him for that Purpose issued, direct and appoint.
IV. And be it further enacted, That as often as any Information, Action or Suit shall be brought or prosecuted before the said Supreme Court, for the Breach or Violation of any Law relating to the Trade or Revenue of the British Colonies or Plantations in America, such Information, Action or Suit shall be heard and determined by the said Court, according to the Course of Proceeding in similar Cases in the Courts of Vice Admiralty in the said Colonies or Plantations; and that it shall and may be lawful for the Party or Parties feeling aggrieved by the Judgment or Decree of the said Supreme Court, in any such Case, to appeal from such Judgment or Decree to the High Court of Admiralty, or to His Majesty in Council, under such and the like Rules and Regulations as are observed in Appeals from the said Courts of Vice Admiralty.
V. And be it further enacted, That the said Supreme Court shall have Power to grant Administration of the Effects of Intestates, and the Probate of Wills; and that the Effects of deceased Persons shall not be administered within the Island of Newfoundland or any Island Place or Territory dependant upon the Government thereof, unless Administration or Probate shall have been duly granted by the said Supreme Court; and in all Cases where the Executor or Executors of any Will in Newfoundland, or the Dependencies thereof, upon being duly cited, shall refuse or neglect to take out Probate
as aforesaid; or where the next of Kin shall be absent from Newfoundland, and the Effects of the Deceased shall appear to the said Supreme Court to be exposed and liable to Waste, it shall be lawful for the said Supreme Court to authorize and empower the Registrar or Clerk of the said Court, or some other fit and proper Person, to collect the said Effects, and hold, or deposit or invest the same in such Manner and Place, or upon such Security, and subject to such Orders and Directions as shall be made by the said Supreme Court in respect of the Custody, Control or Disposal of such Effects.
VI. And be it further enacted, That the said Supreme Court shall have Power and Authority to appoint Guardians and Keepers for Infants and their Estates, according to the Order and Course observed in such Cases in England; and also to appoint Guardians and Keepers of the Persons and Estates of natural Fools, and of such as are or shall be deprived of their Reason or Understanding, so as to be unable to govern themselves and their Affairs, which the said Supreme Court shall have Power and Authority to enquire of and determine, by Inspection of the Person, or by such other Ways and Means as to such Supreme Court shall seem best for ascertaining the Truth.
VII. And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the Governor or Acting Governor for the Time being of Newfoundland, by any Proclamation or Proclamations to be by him for that Purpose issued, to apportion and divide the said Colony into Three several Districts, and to fix and ascertain the Boundaries and Limits of every such District, and such Boundaries or Limits from time to time to alter as Occasion may require Provided always, that such Apportionment of the said Colony into such Districts as aforesaid be made in such Manner as to such Governor or Acting Governor may appear to be best adapted for enabling the Inhabitants of the said Colony to resort with Ease and Convenience to the Circuit Courts to be therein established as after mentioned.
VIII. And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for His Majesty, by any such Charter or Letters Patent as aforesaid, to institute Circuit Courts in each of the Three Districts in which the said Colony may be so divided as aforesaid; and each of the said Circuit Courts shall be holden once at least in each Year by the said Chief Judge, or by One of the said Assistant Judges of the said Supreme Court of Newfoundland, at such Times, and at such One or more Place or Places within each of the said Districts, as the Governor or Acting Governor for the Time being of Newfoundland shall from time to time direct and appoint.
IX. And be it further enacted, That the said Circuit Courts shall be respectively Courts of Record, and shall, within the District in which it may be holden, have and exercise all such and the same Jurisdiction, Powers, and Authority, as is hereby vested in the said Supreme Court of Newfoundland throughout the whole of the said Colony: saving and excepting the trying Exceptions. and determining of Treasons, or Misprisions of Treason, and Felonies not within the Benefit of Clergy, and the hearing or determining of any Informa-
tion, Suit or Action, for the Breach or Violation of any Act of Parliament relating to the Trade and Revenue of the British Colonies in America; all which said Crimes and Offences, Informations, Suits and Actions, shall be tried, enquired of, heard and determined in the said Supreme Court of Newfoundland, and not elsewhere within the said Colony.
X. And be it further enacted, That all Crimes and Misdemeanors, cognizable in the said Circuit Courts and all Issues of Fact which may be joined between the Parties in any Civil Action, depending in the said Circuit Courts, shall be enquired of, heard and determined by the said Circuit Judge, and a Jury of Twelve Men, according to the Rules and Course of the Law of England, as far as the Situation and Circumstances of the said Colony will permit.
XI. Provided nevertheless, and be it further enacted, That if upon the Trial of any Crimes or Misdemeanors before any of the said Circuit Courts, Twelve good and lawful Men shall not appear to form a Jury, then and in all such Cases such Trial shall be had by the Circuit Judge and Three Assessors, being Justices of the Peace in and for the said Colony, or for some District thereof; and the said Justices shall be nominated from time to time to serve as such Assessors as aforesaid by the Governor or Acting Governor for the Time being of the said Colony, and shall severally be liable to be challenged or objected to upon the special Ground of direct Interest or Affection, to be specified in open Court at the Time of Challenge; and in case of such Challenge or Objection being allowed by the Judge of the said Circuit Court the Justice of the Peace so challenged or objected to shall be succeeded by another such Justice of the Peace, who shall in like Manner be nominated by the Governor or Acting Governor for the Time being as aforesaid, and be liable in the same Manner to Challenge or Objection, until Three such Justices of the Peace shall appear duly qualified for the Trial of any Offender in the said Circuit Courts respectively; and the said Justices of the Peace shall thereupon severally take and repeat in open Court the same Oath as is taken by Petit Jurors impannelled for the Trial of any Crime or Misdemeanor in a Court of Record in England; and the Judges of the said Circuit Courts respectively shall, together with the said Three Assessors, give their Verdict upon every such Trial in open Court; but no Person shall be found guilty by any such Verdict unless the Judge of the said Court, and Two at the least of his said Assessors, shall concur in such Verdict; and the Proceedings in the said Circuit Courts respectively shall be under the Controul and Direction of the respective Judges thereof, and all Matters of Law arising in the Course of any Trial shall be determined by such Judges respectively.
XII. Provided also, and be it further enacted, That if upon the Trial of any Issue or Issues of Fact joined between the Parties in any Civil Suit or Action depending in any of the said Circuit Courts, Twelve good and lawful Men shall not appear to form a Jury all such Issues of Fact shall be tried and decided by the Judge of such Court alone, and without a jury; and that in
all Cases where the Sum or Matter at Issue in any such Suit or Action shall exceed or be of the Value of more than Fifty Pounds Sterling British Money, the Judges of the said Courts respectively shall cause the Evidence on any such Hearing or Trial as aforesaid to be taken down in Writing by the Clerk or other proper Officer, in open Court, in the Presence of the Witnesses respectively giving the same, and the Evidence so taken shall be entered upon the Proceedings of the said Courts respectively, and be of record; and in every Case in which any Appeal shall be made and allowed under the Provisions this Act, from any Judgment of the said Circuit Courts, not founded on the Verdict of a Jury, Copies of all Documents and Papers which shall have been produced and given in Evidence shall be certified by the said Clerk or other proper Officer, as authentic; and also Copies of any Documents and Papers which shall have been produced and tendered in Evidence and rejected shall, if required by the Party producing the same, be in like Manner authenticated, but marked by such Officer as aforesaid as rejected, in order that all such Copies may be annexed to the Record, as Part thereof, in case of Appeal.
XIII. And be it further enacted, That it shall be lawful for the Judges of the said Circuit Courts respectively, on the Application of either of the Parties, Plaintiff or Defendant, at or before the Trial of any Issue of Fact joined in any Civil Suit or Action commenced in the said Circuit Courts Judge may permit respectively, in case such Issue is not tried by a Jury, to permit the Evidence on such Trial to be recorded and certified as aforesaid, although the Sum or Matter at Issue may be less in Value than Fifty Pounds Sterling, provided it shall be made to appear to such Judge that the Judgment, Decree, Order or Sentence, which may be given, made or pronounced in such Suit or Action, may be of such Importance as to render it proper that an Appeal should be permitted; and if, after giving or pronouncing such Judgment, Decree or Order, the said Judge shall be of Opinion that such Judgment, Decree or Order is of such Importance as to make it proper that an Appeal should be permitted, it shall be lawful for the said Judge to allow either of the said Parties, Plaintiff or Defendant, to appeal to the Supreme Court, in like Manner, and under and subject to the like Rules and Regulations, as in and by this Act directed in other Cases of Appeal.
XIV. And be it further enacted, That it shall be lawful for the Plaintiff or Plaintiffs, Defendant or Defendants, against whom any Judgment, Decree or Order of the said Circuit Courts respectively shall be given, for or in respect of any Sum or Matter at Issue above or exceeding the Value of Fifty Pounds Sterling, to appeal therefrom to the said Supreme Court, and the Party or Parties appealing from such Judgment, Decree or Order, shall, within Fourteen Days from the passing thereof, give Notice to the adverse Party or Parties of such Appeal, and within Fourteen Days from and after such Judgment, Decree or Order, enter into sufficient Security, to be approved by the Judges of the said Circuit Courts respectively, to satisfy or perform the said Judgment, Decree or Order, in case the same shall be affirmed or the Appeal dismissed, together with such further Costs as shall be awarded thereon: and in all