§ MR. C. H. ANDERSON (Elgin and Nairn)
I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether the attention of the Government had been called to the judgments of the Lord. Justice Clerk and Lord Young in the Cautrydown Farm Case; whether the Lord Justice Clerk described it as a deplorable case, both in its circumstances and in the way it had been dealt with by the Sheriff Substitute, and that extravagant expense had been incurred owing to the course taken by the Sheriff Substitute, which was entirely and unfortunately wrong; whether Lord Young used similar expressions, and further said that the Sheriff Substitute had by his decision accumulated all the expenses; a decision which he described as absurd and ridiculous; and further, how any Sheriff could have hesitated to take the course the landlord prayed, he (Lord Young) was at a loss to conceive; whether the Government will take any steps to remedy this miscarriage of justice, which has caused heavy expenses to both parties especially the tenant; whether the decisions of the Sheriff Substitute in question have frequently been reversed on appeal; whether out of 16 appeals to the Court of Session in 1886 seven were wholly or partially successful, and out of 21 appeals in 1887 10 were wholly or partially successful; and whether the Government will consider what steps ought to be taken in the matter?
§ * MR. BUCHANAN
I wish to ask the Lord Advocate before he replies, whether there has not been another case which has given rise to considerable talk, in which the decision of the Sheriff Substitute of Elginshire came before the same Court of Appeal in Edinburgh, and 843 reversed by them, and the words used by one of the Judges (Lord Young) were almost similar to those used in this case—that he considered that nothing was more extraordinary and ridiculous than the conduct of the Sheriff?
§ * THE LORD ADVOCATE
As regards the Question of the hon. Member for West Edinburgh, I am not acquainted with the case he mentions, but perhaps he will give me notice and particulars. With regard to the Question on the Paper, the figures quoted in the hon. Member's question do not give the result of the Appeals against decisions of this Sheriff Substitute. I find from the judicial statistics that there were 16 Appeals to the Sheriff Principal. In nine of these cases the decision was affirmed, wholly reversed in three cases, while four were partially reversed. In 1887 judgment was affirmed in 11 cases, wholly reversed in five cases, and partly reversed in five cases. As regards cases appealed to the Court of Session, I have ascertained on inquiry that in 1886 there was only one appeal which was reversed, and in 1887 there were eight appeals, only two of which resulted in reversals. These figures dc not call for special observation. In the case particularly mentioned in the Question, the learned Sheriff Substitute decided that an agricultural tenant it bad times was entitled to hold his farm and at the same time abstain from fulfilling an obligation in his lease to re claim land. That was certainly an egregious error; but while sympathizing with the protest against this doctrine which is conveyed by the Question of the hon. and learned Gentleman, I thin that he may rest satisfied with the authoritative repudiation of it by the Supreme Court, and that it does not call for any action on the part of the Government against a Judge who is otherwise an able and experienced public servant nor does there seem any reason for interference in the matter of costs, which fall upon the party to the suit, who was pronounced by the Court to have been in the wrong from beginning to end.