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Tnß Ashburton District Court has, for a considerable time past, been m a Btato of suspended animation, and the business on the civil Bide of the Court has, m consequence, pretty well vanished. This is the result of the infrequent sittings of the Court, which used formerly to be heid monthly, but upon Mr Broad's appointment as Judge of the Court came to be held at uncertain periods — at such times, m fact, as the Judgo could manage to hold them. Mr Broad had thrust upon his shoulders the work of three or four men, being required to perform the duties of District Judge for the whole of the South Island, and although New Zealand never had a more conscientious and painstaking Judge, still Mr Broad was unable to overtake the physically impossible, and all he did, or could be expected to do, was to divide his time as fairly as possible between the various districts under his charge Suitors m a Court, however, naturally wish their cases to be tried and disposed of with reasonable celerity ; hence, those persons who would otherwise have sought the assistance of the District Court for the redress of their wrongs have latterly, either from want of moans to institute proceedings m the Supreme Court, sat down under injustice, or have been compelled to resort to the expensive machinery of the last mentioned tribunal. We think this is a pity, because there is no doubt that the District Court is admirably adapted to the wants of a country district like our own. Its procedure is both simple and cheap, and as the Ash burton Court is presided over by a Judge whoso legal capacity is beyond question, suitors m that Court get all the benefits of the Supreme Court at half the expense. Indeed, it does not seem to be generally known that cases where the amounts m dispute range from £50 to £100 can be tried m the District Court at virtually the sumo cost as m the Resident Magistrate's Court. Then, too, by an Act passed during the last session of the General Assembly the District Court has been given jurisdiction over partnership suitß, and also m actions for malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, seduction, breach of promise of marriage, libel, and slander, whore the V!t»Luttgv» claimed do iiot exceed £100. This In a Btep towards assimilating the District Court to the County Court m England, the scope of whose functions has been greatly increased of late years. Our own opinion is, that much of the business now done by both tho Resident Magistrates' and the Supreme Courts might, with great advantage to tho public, bo devolvad upon the District Courts, and our entire judicial system be thus reconstructed without making any sudden or violent change. To return, however, to our text. Tho members of tho legal profession m Ashburton are about to petition the Minister of Justice for monthly sittings of the District Court, and wo hopo that Mr Fprgus will see his way to comply with this reasonable request more especially as the expenso entailed by the change would be but trifling, and would be more than covered by the Court fees which would be received upon an increase m the business. It would do no harm if the Borough and County Councils were to take up tho matter, and pass reeolutiops m support of the proposed alteration.

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Bibliographic details

THE ASHBURTON DISTRICT COURT., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2089, 16 March 1889

Word Count

THE ASHBURTON DISTRICT COURT. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2089, 16 March 1889