OHINEMURI LICENSING CASE.
BEFORE THE APPEAL COURT. QUESTION OF LEGALITY. (By Telegraph.—Press Association.) WELLINGTON, Monday. The Appeal Court to-day commenced the case of Cock and others v. the Attor-nej'-Geneial and Mr. Justice Sim. The Bench consisted of the Full Court, with the exception of the Chief Justice (Sir Robert Stout), who is on his way to England. The case had been removed by consent, and by order of Mr. Justice Cooper, into the Court of Appeal for argument.
The plaintiffs were the elected members of the Ohinemuri Licensing Committee, June, 1900. On February 27, 1909, his Excellency the Governor, acting by and with the advite and consent of the Executive Council, appointed Mr. Justice Sim as a Commissioner to inquire into certain charges of bribery made against the plaintiffs while members of the Ohinemuri Licensing Committee. The recital -in the Commission was as follows:
"Whereas it has been alleged in connection with an application made to the Licensing Committee of Ohinemuri, in or about the month of June, 1900, by one .Maurice Goggan Power, for the grant of a license in respect to premises situate at Waihl, in lieu of his then existing license in respect of premises situate at Paeroa, money was paid to several members of the committee as bribes to support the application," etc. Plaintiffs moved the case to the Supreme Court for declaration that the Commission was null and void on the ground that the Governor-in-Counoil had no power to issue a Commission to inquire into an alleged criminal offence, and _that. _ the Commission Was conse'quctftfy illegal. The plaintiffs also claimed a writ of certiorari to quash the Commission, and a writ of injunction, or writ of prohibition, to restrain Mr. Justice yiin from proceeding with the Commission, upon the same grounds. Messrs. C. P. Skerrett, K.C., F. E. Baume, K.C., and Luckie, appeared for the plaintiffs, and Messrs. M. Chapman, X..0., and D. M. Findlay for the defendants.
It was agreed to submit the following questions to the Court for decision: 1. Was the Governor-in-Council authorised, under the Commission of Inquiry Act, to appoint Mr. Justice Sim to inquire and report (a) upon charges of bribery recited in the Commission, or (b) as to the necessity or , expediency of ajiy legislation in the premises as mentioned in the Commission? 2. Assuming that the Commission had been a Royal Commission, under letters patent, \va3 the Governor authorised to appoint Mr.'Justice Sim to make tho inquiries set out above? 3. Has Mr. Justice Sim authority, either under the Commission or under Royal Commission, to exercise the powers which the Commission purports to vest in him?
Mr. Skerrett submitted the following points: That the King cannot, by his prerogative, set up a new Court, nor lake away from nor add to the existing jurisdiction of any Court, except by the authorit}- of Act of Parliament; that -the Governor is not viceroy, and does not possess any general sovereign power, his authority being derived from, and limited to, the powers expressly or implicitly'entrnsted to him by his Commission; that the Commission of the King, like all the Kjing's writs, much be such as to have t-nc warrant of law, and continual allowance in courts of justice, all others being unlawful and void; that the King cannot set up a Commission to inquire into and determine, nor to inquire only into a charge of crime cognisable by existing jurisdiction; that the King may set up a Commission to inquire into and gather information on general matters, but cannot set up a Commission to inquire into purely personal rights, whether the rights of property or other legal rights; that the prerogative of the Crown has not been delegated to the Governor in this respect.
Mr. Skerrett had not concluded argument when the Court adjourned until 10.30 to-morrow morning.
WELLINGTON, this day.
The Court of Appeal continued their argument in the case Cock and others v. the Attorney-General and Mr. Justice Sim.
Mr. iSkerrett stated that it was possible that commissions to inquire into public matters were not unknown. The Moseley Commission had been set up by a private English gentleman to inquire into the state of education in the United States, but, if such commissions interfered with private rights, they would quickly be prohibited by the Courts. He quoted authorities in support of six propositions of law already cited, the greater part of the authorities being from 200 to 300 years old.
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