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“And this decision rests on the fact that the counsel for the city before the Privy Council, said never a word in regard to the company’s claim, as noted above. “To quote once more from the first paragraph of the Privy Council judgment (London Times report): “‘It was not denied by the counsel for the respondent (that is, the city of Winnipeg), that the powers, rights, privileges, and franchises belonging to the respective companies who were predecessors of the appellants (that is, the Winnipeg Electric Railway Company), have been taken up and carried forward by reason of the various transactions of amalgamation and otherwise, and are now vested in the appellants.’ “After setting forth the vanished companies' corporate powers and privileges, which the Courts in this country had declared defunct, but which the city representatives without a word of objection, allowed to be resurrected and galvanized into life, the Privy Council judgment says again: “‘The validity of any of the amalgamations referred to has in no particular been questioned in the present Case. As a matter of indubitable fact, neither counsel nor solicitor was at fault, and the blame was transferred elsewhere when it became known that the solicitor had properly instructed counsel, and that counsel had fully argued the case. Having the stenographic report of the argument before me, I am able to say that the fact which their Lordships say “ was not denied,” was not only combatted to the extent of (at one place alone) 21 pages, (about 7,500 words), but that their Lordships took part in the discussion. In various parts of the argument, the following language appears: “Counsel; “My point is that they did not transfer—they could not have transferred, and they did not purport to transfer, the corporate rights of those two companies. I say those two companies, if they did not cease to exist, remained as mere ghosts. The contractual right which they had established with the city passed over to the street railway company. The corporate rights did not. “This amalgamated company, no doubt, has the contractual rights of the two companies amalgamated to form it. but my point is that it has not any of the corporate rights of the two old companies, the Gas Company and the NorthWestern Company, and that is so for reasons that I shall now very shortly give your Lordships.”
“THE LORD CHANCELLOR: The point is that under that word “contract it cannot transfer these powers. “Counsel: Yes. The word is not wide enough for it. So much for the Gas Company's power to transfer. “THE LORD CHANCELLOR: Now you were going to say the Street Railway Company had not the power to buy. “Counsel: It had not the power to buy a company of this kind, and for several reasons. “LORD Robson : You must not forget clause 2 of the agreement to which you have referred, by which the city and the Manitoba Gas Company are bound to confer upon the North-West Electric Company that power. “Counsel: But I am dealing at present with the charter powers of these two companies. It is said one of them purchased the charter powers of the other, and I am examining that argument, and my position, I respectfully submit to your Lordships, is that neither had the Gas Company the power to sell its corporate powers, nor had the Street Railway Company the power to purchase, for the two reasons I am giving. “Then the third point is that even if the North-West Company had any rights under this agreement the present company has not, because none of the rights of the NorthWest Company passed over to the Street Railway Company. “Now, my Lords, if I have made it clear that the Gas Company’s corporate powers did not pass to the Street Railway Company, I have a much easier task in upholding the statement that the powers of the North-West Company did not pass to the Gas Company. “My point is that no company has authority to do a power business in Winnipeg at all, and I am trying to work that down in this way. I shew, in the first place, that I get rid of the two old companies’ corporate powers, to begin with. I say those two old companies were buried twenty years ago, so far as this case is concerned, and nobody is acting as agent for them or on their powers. “LoRD Robson : They were not amalgamated, were they? “Counsel: No, my Lord, they were not amalgamated. “LoRD Robson: They were simply buried?” “THE LORD CHANCELLOR: Your proposition is that after a certain period the Street Railway Company did it under its own power?
“Counsel: Yes, my Lord. “THE LORD CHANCELLOR: That is your contention? “Counsel : Yes, that is my contention, my Lord, and that the Gas Company and the North-West Company were buried too. “LoRD Robsox : And the right to use poles in the NorthWest was buried too? “Counsel; Yes, that was buried too. “LoRD Robson : Therefore, they had no corporate powers and no other powers to speak of, because the other company had powers of its own. “Counsel; Yes, that is so. “LORD Robso N: Then there was a good deal of trouble taken with such a company. It only was born for the purpose of a funeral. “Counsel; But their assets were bought, and amongst them was this contract that afterwards the Street Railway Company performed. “THE LORD CHANCELLOR: I think we now appreciate your point.” Explanation of the statement in their Lordships' judgment, to the effect that counsel did not deny what was so elaborately combatted, is difficult. I can only suggest that it may possibly be attributed to the difference in the attitude which their Lordships assume towards British cases and colonial cases—the one are treated judicially, and the other, sometimes paternally, and, therefore, not so carefully. As in the case of The King v. The Royal Bank (discussed ante p. 269), in which a new and disturbing idea with reference to our constitution was promulgated, so here, when immense interests in the city of Winnipeg are involved, we are put off with a mere affirmation with which it is impossible to be satisfied. When, a few days ago I told a brother K.C. that the Judicial Committee had apparently declared that one company
could transfer its charter powers to another company, he asked:
“How did they come to do that?”
“They said that counsel had conceded the point.” I answered.
“Even so,” he replied, “ did they not know any law themselves?”
JoFIN S. EwART.
All communications should be addressed “The Editor '' Canadian LAW TIMES, 705 Confederation Life Building, Toronto.
Thé Editor will be pleased to receive contributions on any subject of legal interest, and will pay for all articles accepted.
In last month's issue of the Canadian Law Times the editorial relating to the application of the City of Toronto to the Dominion Railway Board for a uniform telephone rate throughout the whole of the city limits has called forth a protest from certain of the readers of this magazine. The Editor would be glad to publish these letters in full had permission, which was asked for, been obtained, but out of deference to our correspondents no further mention will be made to the correspondence.
Again reverting to the question of the city of Toronto's claim, concerning which it may be mentioned that an appeal from the decision of the Railway Board has been taken, the conditions existing in Toronto will sooner or later arise in every municipality from one end of Canada to the other, and there is no doubt that a decision similar to that recently given in favour of the Bell Telephone Co. against the City of Toronto will be fought by the municipality concerned to the bitter end. The chairman's decision not to sit in judgment on the question, if pushed to its logical conclusion, would result in his leaving the decision of issues similar to the present to his colleagues for some years to come.
So great was the confidence inspired by the prompt energetic action of the Dominion Railway Board, and the justice of the decisions given, that the people throughout the country had come to regard this most important Court as the protector of their rights against the greed of the great corporations, and it would be a pity if this opinion were changed.
At the Birmingham Assizes an incident recently occurred which shews the exciting and really dangerous conditions under which criminal cases are disposed of now and then in British Courts of Justice. The newspaper report was as follows:–
Assize CourT SENSATION.
| Press Association Telegraml. A sensational incident took place in the Crown Court at Birmingham Assizes yesterday morning, where Mr. Justice Ridley presided. The first prisoner tried was Thomas Field, who was charged with housebreaking and theft. The case had not proceeded far when everyone was startled by a crash on the Judge's desk. In the absence of the dock attendant, Field had seized the stool which is provided in the dock for some of the prisoners, and hurled it with great force across the Court. It passed over the barristers' seats as well as over the clerk of arraigns, struck the desk where Mr. Justice Ridley was writing, and rebounded on to his head. His Lordship's wig and glasses were knocked off, and it was feared he had been seriously injured. Holding his hands to his face, his Lordship rose and returned to his private room, followed by his associate and others. Meanwhile the dock officer was struggling with the prisoner, whom he hustled down the steps to the cells below. After an absence of about fifteen minutes, His Lordship returned. He had a red mark on the forehead over the eye, but the skin did not appear to have been broken. The prisoner was then brought back. Addressing him, His Lordship said: “Don’t throw anything like that again. You might kill me next time.” Prisoner said: “I meant it for witness. I did not mean it for you.” His Lordship: “I don't know who you meant it for, but you hit me full in the face.” Addressing the dock officer, His Lordship said, “Take hold of the man's arms; don't let him have the use of them; at any rate he is a very dangerous man. The trial was then proceeded with, the police guarding the prisoner on either hand. He was found guilty and sentenced to serve out the remainder of a previous sentence and five years' penal servitude in addition. When Mr. Justice Ridley left the Assize Court last evening, his left eye shewed signs of discoloration and there was a deep scar inside the left eyebrow. Asked by the clerk how he had been struck, His Lordship said he thought the stool grazed the top of his desk and struck him full in the face. He was hit in the eye, across the forehead, and on the chin. The whole occurrence was so sudden that he did not notice the prisoner's movements.