31 JANUARY 1941, Page 20

Hug gery Etcetera

On Circuit 1924-1937. By Sir Frank Douglas Mackinnon, Lord Justice of Appeal. (Cambridge University Press. as.) Tins book is quite unlike the ordinary legal book of reminis- cences, for it is concentrated on Circuit experiences tempered with discussion of anomalies and record of antiquities, Incident- ally there is a very illuminating history of the doctrine of Benefit of Clergy, which is often obscurely referred to by authors who tell one nothing about it. Sir Frank feels very stronglY about the injustice to London litigants due to the Circuit system and on page to& mentions a very bad case in which a Londoner had to wait fourteen months before getting judgement, whereac if he had been living in Dolgelley or Presteign, and done his work there, he would have obtained judgement within three or four months. He has also some scathing remarks on divorce cases that have come before him. He =argues that there art really no principles in the exercise of judicial discretion in favour of a petitioner .who confesses adultery, and he suggests that the

great bulk ot these cases could easily be heard by a county court judge or a registrar. There are some very amusing extracts frcm the AssIze Record suchas in 1773, "Mr. Dayrell to be presented for that mo,; heinous sin of Huggery by dining with an Attorney when lit, brethren were assembled at the George.' Guilty, a bottle free In 1784 Mr. Isted presents Mr. Willis for saying to Mr. Barker, an Attorney, in the court at Warwick, 'My dear Sir' Paid 2s. 6d. Mr. Clarke presents Mr. (illegible) for dancing with an Attorney's daughter at Derby. Mr. Moody presented for giving a Supper to three Sisters_ Of an Attorney (being his Sisters-in- law)—not guilty. (Under the old usage this may have been meant his step-sisters. Cf. Sam Weller's use of ' Mother-in- Law ' for Stepmother), 1787. Coventry, 24th March, Mr. Rastall presented for dancing with an Attorney's wife at Derby 2s. 6d."

There is a sprinkling of good anecdotes and the author's enjoyment of his wanderings on Circuit makes the book very