The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER TUESDAY, JANUARY 20, 1880.
In the session of Parliament recently closed our legislators’ attention was attracted to one of the most useful institutions of the judicial machinery of the colony—viz., the District Courts. The establishment of these Courts at various - places in each Provincial district, with areas of country distinctly laid out, over which the Courts shall have jurisdiction, has materially simplified and facilitated legal proceedings, and saved residents in country districts much time and expense that otherwise would have been incurred Had there been no medium between the R.M. Courts and the Supreme Court of the colony. Only a few months ago a District Court was established in Ashburton, and its operation if not a blessing has certaialy been a relief to many who but for its institution would have had to perform many journeys to Christchurch, and bear the accumulations of expense incidental thereto. The Court has undoubtedly been a benefit, but it would be a still greater benefit if Ashburton were constituted a district by itself, instead of bring only an arm of the Christchurch Court. As it is at present constituted, Judge Ward has no power to grant probates of wills and letters of administration at the Ashburton Court, even with the added powers given to District Judges under the Act of this session, entitled the “District Courts Proceedings Validation,” the 3rd section of which reads thus : “ Whereas doubts have arisen as to the powers of Judges of District Courts to grant probates of wills and letters of administration within their own districts : Be it enacted that the Judge of every District Court has had and shall have the same power as the Supreme Court to grant probates of wills and letters of administration within his own district, unless the office of the Registrar of any district of the Supreme Court has been or shall be at the time of the granting of the same situate within the district of such District Court. ” The Ashburton Court being within the the District of Christchurch thus prevents Ashburton from pertaking of the advantages this clause confers. This is a matter that not alone affects the legal fraternity, but every man in the County likely to leave any property behind him when he dies, and every one likely to be interested in proving a will, or in the administration of the estate of a deceased person, is affected by t, and the proper course to follow would be to secure if possible the constitution of Ashburton a, separate District Court district. It is a matter that all the public bodies in the district should take up—County Council, Municipality, and Road hoards—and from the importance of the County as a legal centre the question is worthy of the consideration of all. The Inspector of Public Works has visited the Borough of Ashburton, and prepared a plan of a most commodious and well-arranged court-house, and as the whole machinery of the District Court is now in working order, it only wants the power given to the Judge, by the constipation of a separate district, to complete
its powers, and place it upon an equal footing, as regards its functions, with Christchurch and Timaru. We commend the matter to the public interested, to the public bodies of the county, and to the members of the Ashburton bar, and hope that steps will be taken to petition for a separation, and so reap the benefit of the powers given to the Judges of District Courts by the Validation Act of 1879.