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With respect to the crimina læsæ majestatis, (the statute of 25th Eward III. or any other in which the island is not expressly named, being there of no force), and also many other offences of a most atrocious and malignant nature, now totally unknown to the Manks law; it would indeed be highly improper, ill-timed, and presuming in the writer, to say more than merely to hint, that, for very obvious reasons, the subject imperiously demands the immediate attention of the insular legislature.
Concluding it, therefore, to be the intention of the Government, under the auspices of his Grace the Duke of Atholl, to abrogate certain of the old, and make such new criminal laws, as the members in their wisdom may think reasonable and prudent, the writer apologizes for this concise notice of the Manks penal law, and will conclude his observations on the subject with a sentiment of Montesquieu: “ Could I but succeed, so as to persuade those who command, to increase their knowledge in what thiey ought to prescribe; and those who obey, to find a new pleasure resulting from their obedience, I should think myself the most happy of mortals.”
OF THE COURTS OF JUDICATURE. ;
The policy of the Manks constitution has established various courts of civil and criminal jurisdiction ; the principal of which, exclusive of the house of keys, are the court of chancery, the court of general goal-delivery, the court of exchequer, the common law or sheading courts, the two deemsters' courts, the court of admiralty, or water-bailiff's court, the ecclesiastical courts, and the courts of the high bailiffs of the four principal towns; all of which have an original jurisdiction, and controlling grounds of determination : but the courts possessing appellate jurisdiction, are the Twenty-four Keys, the staff of government, consisting of the governor and council, and his Majesty in council. "
For the more convenient administration of justice, the island is divided into two districts, with a deemster or judge for each ; but the courts of chancery, general goal-delivery, exchequer, and the southern common law courts, are held in Castle Rushen; and all the judges and law-officers, except the ecclesiastical, are commissioned by his majesty, durante bene placito. These districts are subdivided into six sheadings or divisions, over each of which is annually, about Midsummer, appointed by the governor, a coroner, with extensive powers; the name and office of sheriff being here unknown.
By the ancient constitution, the king or his lieutenant, assisted by the deemsters, council, and keys, held cognizance of all pleas, civil and criminal (for the great Tynwald court was originally held only for the promulgating of laws), and, like the Wittenagemote, or general council of the Saxons, formed one supreme court, or Aula Regia, for private justice and public business; and this did not interfere with the ecclesiastical jurisdiction, which had from remote antiquity their own tribunals. But in later periods, as the island increased in popu·lation, commerce and wealth ; and conse
quently, when suitors and causes became more numerous, it was necessary to institute the different courts before mentioned.
In all the insular courts, the party is at liberty to plead his own cause; but in matters of importance, the trial is usually conducted by an advocate, who, by the statute of 1777, must first be commissioned by the governor, and take the usual oaths. By this act, if an attorney should become bail in any cause, or carry on any suit by way of champerty, he subjects himself to fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court, and is rendered incapable of practising in future.
By the act of revestment the courts were left untouched, excepting that the lord's juridical authority being abolished, the court of his Majesty in council became the immediate, as well as the last court of appeal from the jurisdictions within the isle. · When an appeal to his Majesty in council is demanded, the party must petition the gover
nor for that purpose. On this petition, the governor grants an order, requiring the party to enter into a bond, with sureties, in such penal sum as he may think proper, that the appellant shall prosecute the appeal within a limited time; the lodgment of the appeal is considered to be a sufficient proceeding to prevent the recovery of the penalty, and afterwards it behoves the respondent to press the cause to a hearing and ultimate decision.
It having been the practice to allow appeals in causes of small import and value, which might have been proper previous to the revestment, when the appeal could be made with very little expence to the lord proprietor on the spot; it is submitted to the wisdoin of the legislature to what extent these trifling appeals ought to be allowed, more especially as, in some instances, they may, in the hands of the wealthy and litigious, be converted into engines of oppression against the poor.
OF THE CHANCERY COURT, AND THE PRIVI
LEGES OF NATIVES AND STRANGERS, WITH
In this supreme court, the governor*, who represents his Majesty, or, in his absence, the lieutenant-governor, presides as chancellor ; and he is assisted by the deemsters, the clerk of the rolls, the attorney-general, and the admiral or water-bailiff ; all of whom, since the revesting act of the island in the British crown, hold their respective situations during the pleasure of his Majesty.
This court, in matters of civil property, possesses the greatest judicial consequence of any in the island; and has a mixt and most extensive jurisdiction in matters both of law and equity. Like the English court of chancery, it is the province of this court, to judge and determine without the intervention of a jury, and (with the exception of not imprisoning the persons of the natives, unless they incur a contempt of court) has homogeneous authority and power.
The equity side differs from the courts of law, more in exterior practice than in principle; but, like the English court, it compels the defendant to make a discovery on oath,
* The governor is sworn to execute his office as uprightly as he bears the white staff (which is the mark of his dignity) in his hand, agreeable to the symbolical philosophy of the Druids, that this mark of the magistrate's legal power may be a constant me. morial to him of his duty.