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It has been agreed that the one copy of composition agreement fyled, and all the evidence in the cause, are to be held common to the three petitions and to Jeffrey's contestations.

At the argument Jeffrey relied chiefly upon his objections to the form of the composition deed; his counsel argued that it was unequal, providing different compositions for different creditors, that the firm creditors and the separate creditors of B. Hutchins individually, and of Ed. Lusher, ought to have fixed one and the same composition rate for the creditors; that the majority of "the creditors," that is, of all the creditors, several and joint, have not agreed upon any one composition; that the creditors, appearing before the notary, have thrown themselves into different sets, and settled different compositions for different creditors. Less stress was laid on the charges of extravagant living made against the bankrupts; it was urged, however, that they were, as regards Jeffrey, to be held in fraud, as they must have known that they were bankrupts when they bought the teas from Jeffrey, in respect of which his claim exists.

As to the charge of extravagant living, there is some proof; but considering that none of the creditors, excepting Jeffrey, appear here to complain of it, and that the inspectors (having considered the subject) excuse it, I am not disposed to be rigorous. Passing to the other charge of having bought Jeffrey's teas, knowing that they had not the means to pay for them, it is to be observed that the bankrupts are shown not to have moved towards that purchase of teas. They were pressed to take them. They pledged them almost immediately afterwards: but such pledgings are common in Montreal; and I cannot bring myself to adjudge upon the proofs before me, that the bankrupts knew themselves to be insolvent when they bought from Jeffrey, yet they were bankrupt a full year before they declared insolvency.

These teas were bought in January, 1870; the notes for them were not matured at the date of the insolvency. Immediately after the insolvency $56,000 were stuck off by the creditors as bad, in estimating the assets of the bankrupt firm, still the firm had good credit almost up to the announcement of its insolvency, and seems to have had no idea that it was on the verge of such a calamity.

The composition deed as made, binds Jeffrey, it is said.

Has the deed all the requisites? Is it in form of law! Am I bound to confirm it?

Jeffrey contends that we have not before us a deed between the bankrupt and the creditors.

He refers firstly to § 192 of the English Act of 1861: "Every deed entered into between a debtor and his creditor," &c., and relies upon the English Courts' decisions on this Act, particularly as to the meaning of the word "creditors" in ours and in the English Act; among the cases cited is Tomlin vs. Dutton. *

"A deed of composition between members of a partnership and their joint creditors without reference to the separate creditors of the different members of the firm is NOT within the 192 sec. of Bankruptcy Act of 1861—and is invalid even as regards a nonassenting creditor of the partnership."

Upon the English decisions, Sills on Composition Deed remarks p. 20: ''The effect of these decisions is to render it doubtful "whether any valid deed can be made by a member of a part"nership if he has separate creditors; at any rate if the deed "operates as a release of debts."

Walker vs. Nevill, vol xi. English Jurist, has also been referred as supporting this proposition: that a majority in value and amount of each class taken by itself need not be, for the 162 section of the English Act of 1861, or for a case like the one before us.

It is opposed to Jeffrey that the bankrupts' composition as arranged is perfectly fair; because if distribution under the Bankrupt Act had been worked out to the end, (or were it to be worked out) he Jeffrey could not get more than 7s. in the £. if as much. But this involves assumptions; besides, composition is not distribution in bankruptcy but a different thing, and the measure of the estate in bankruptcy or belonging to the bankrupts is for nothing in considering the legality of a composition deed.

It has also been urged that the reconveyance clause helps tho composition agreement.

It is said that the creditors can sell all the estate at a dollar rate; but I see that between selling the estate and discharging the bankrupts there is a distance. The sale of an estate does not destroy creditors' hold on their debtors; but under formal composition the debtors go freeHere is the reconveyance clause. (His Honor here read the clause.)

* A. D. 1868, law reports vol. iii. p. 467.

I consider it a non sequitur that, because of such a reconveyance, a composition deed reading as the one before us is a discharge of the Bankrupt quoad a non-assenting creditor like Jeffrey.

Nor can I yield to another argument, viz., that because in bankruptcy distinct accounts are to be kept, of the firm estates, and of the partners' separate estates, and beeause of distribution having to be as per sec. 94, several compositions may be, as in the deed before us.

Taking up the separate composition of B. H. we see it assented to by certain separate creditors, but the firm creditors are not named parties to it, nor counted for it, yet the separate estate is removed from Jeffrey, and from non-assenting creditors like him, and B. H. is declared discharged. This separate estate might yield a surplus applicable to Jeffrey, or to payment of his claim; though of course Jeffery is nominally a firm creditor only.

The separate composition agreement of Ed. Lusher is peculiar, and in considering it we are not to regard the fact alleged of his not having had assets. He might have been a person having assets of $5,000 or $10,000.

The conclusion that I have come to after considering everything is this: I do not see such a composition deed here as fulfils the law's requirement, nor discharge to the bankrupts that Jeffrey is bound by. Jeffrey has right, rather than be forced to submit to this composition deed (under which creditors who take 17s. and \ a cent in the pound to themselves, appoint him to have only 7s.), to ask distribution by the working out of the bankruptcy act. He has right to dividends from the firm assets, and to the realization of B. H's. private estate, so as to find whether or not he get something out of that. This is not demonstrated to be impossible. This composition deed is irregular, providing dividends or composition amounts for the creditors unequally and contrary to law. So the three petitions are rejected, the contestations of them being to a certain extent, as explained by what has been said, maintained with costs.

Judgment.—The composition deed is pronounced irregular, unequal, and illegal, and of no force against contestant, and allegations of petitioners not being proved, confirmation of the discharge is refused, and the petitions are severally rejected, with costs to contestant, Jeffery.

{To he continued.')

William H. Kerk.

LE DROIT CONSTITUTIONNEL DU CANADA.

La Province de Québec, à part peut-être l'Etat de la Louisiane, est sans contredit le pays où les sources de lois sont les plus diverses et mixtes. En matières civiles, les lois de l'ancienne France, telles qu'en force en Canada lors de la cession à la Couronne Anglaise, forment en général le droit commun de cette colonie originairement Française. Néanmoins, son droit public et criminel lui vient presqu'm toto de la Grande Bretagne. Depuis près d'un siécle, sa Législature a encore largement emprunté des lois de la mère-patrie, particulièrement en matières commerciales; et en 1866, son Code Civil lui apportait subitement un grand nombre d'articles de droit nouveau du Code Napoléon. Enfin son Code de Procédure Civile est le fruit d'un mélange encore indigest de droit Français et de droit Anglais. Que fautil donc ajouter pour démontrer que la science du droit en BasCanada est plus compliquée et plus difficile que dans n'importe quelle contrée du monde. Evidemment, le juge et l'avocat ne peuvent y arriver, sans posséder le droit Romain et le droit moderne et ancien des grandes nations de notre époque, sans être familiers aussi bien avec Pothier que Blackstone, Troplong que Story, aussi bien avec les statuts de la colonie et la jurisprudence de ses tribunaux et des tribunaux Français qu'avec les ordonnances de la monarchie Française et les Law Reports de ces mille et un précédents dont les Anglais et les Américains nous dotent si libéralement chaque année. Il y a dans ce vaste champ, qui oserait le nier! assez de matériaux pour l'esprit légal le mieux développé, assez d'éléments pour satisfaire pendant des siècles l'ambition des membres les plus érudits du Banc et du Barreau. La sphère du droit en Bas-Canada ne s'arrête pourtant pas là. Les rapports commerciaux que la vapeur et le fil électrique ont si considérablement contribué à multiplier entre nos nationaux et leurs compatriotes des autres provinces, ou les citoyens de l'Union Américaine, sont encore venus jeter sur le terrain judiciaire les matières toujours si épineuses du droit international privé. Voilà enfin que tout à coup un nouveau régime politique vient y ajouter les Questions Constitutionnelles; et de fait à peine trois années s'étaient-elles écoulées sous son Vol. I. r No. î. empire, que nos tribunaux étaient appelés à décider une de ces questions aussi délicates qu'importantes dans l'affaire de Bélitle v. L'Union St. Jacques de Montréal.*

La décision de cette cause nous a engagé à offrir au public quelques notes sur le droit constitutionnel du Canada, qui, à cause de la nouveauté du sujet, pourront peut-être avoir quelqu'intérêt et quelqu'utilité pratique.

I.—SOURCES DU DROIT CONSTITUTIONNEL DU CANADA.

Chaque Etat a sa constitution; mais chaque Etat n'a pas un droit civil constitutionnel proprement dit. Dans les pays qui, comme la Grande Bretagne, la France et tant d'autres, sont soumis à une seule autorité souveraine, les conflits constitutionnels ne sont guère possibles; tandisque dans d'autres, où plusieurs souverainetés se côtoient dans de certaines limites, ils deviennent une nécessité du régime politique, que l'on appelle le régime fédéral. De ce nombre sont les confédérations de l'Amérique du Sud, les Etats Unis d'Amérique et le Canada. Il est évident que quand deux ou plusieurs Etats se trouvent unis sous deux ou plusieurs pouvoirs souverains, ayant chacun une juridiction spéciale et limitée, la validité ou constitutionalité de leurs actes respectifs (car les législatures ne sont pas plus infaillibles que les autres hommes) doit nécessairement être mise en question; et pour décider le différend, il faudra avoir recours à une autorité suprême, commune à tous. Cette autorité, c'est la Constitution. "If a number of political societies" dit S tory, f et son autorité mérite ici tout le respect dont elle jouit dans sa patrie, puisque notre Constitution, à part la" souveraineté extérieure, est presqu'identique à celle de nos voisins, "enter into a larger political society, the laws which the latter may enact, pursuant to the powers entrusted to it by its constitution, must necessarily be supreme over those societies, and the individuals of whom they are composed. It would otherwise be a mere treaty, dependent upon the good faith of the parties, and not a government, which is only another name for political power and supremacy. But it will not follow, that acts of the larger society, which are not pursuant to its constitutional powers, but are invasions of the residuary authorities of the smaller societies, will become the supreme law of the land. They will be merely acts of usurpation, and will deserve to be

• Supra, p. 118.

f Commentaries on the Constitution of U. S. § 965.

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