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lication.)" Its recommendations as to a Code of Civil Procedure consistent with the general scheme of revision and classification are the elimination from the present Code of all provisions of substantive law, the rules of evidence, and all purely administrative matters, and the simplification and condensation of the remainder, thereby converting it into a practice act pure and simple. The method of doing the work proposed is to put it in charge of a board of five lawyers selected by the Governor from the leading members of the Bar of the State to serve, excepting the chairman, without pay, and with authority to employ such assistants as may be necessary within the appropriation made for that purpose. The entire work is to be completed within two years from the organization of the board; it is to be reported for enactment as a whole; and the total expense is estimated at $75,000. It is suggested that when the statutes so consolidated are enacted an official edition be published, together with a separate index to the Statute Law of the State, to be reissued from time to time in an amended form so as to show the results of the legislation from year to year.
I believe that the proposals of the committee reflect the most enlightened and mature conclusions of experience, and are the only practicable, efficient and economical solution of the problem. They provide complete relief, as they embody the approved processes of expurgation, consolidation, republication and indexing. The whole subject is now with the Legislature. It has done its part in the past to secure an orderly system of statute law. Let us hope that it will manifest the same purpose in dealing with the present situation and the report of this last committee just submitted. We have every reason to anticipate that it will act promptly and effectively. The consummation of the efforts of over thirty years is
now in sight as the result of a specific and definite plan of action. It is not worth while to dwell on the failures of those years beyond gathering from them the lessons of experience. Paid commissioners have been expensive and have not accomplished the work, though its completion within a short period of time is now feasible largely because of their labors. There is no occasion for another commission of the same kind to, perhaps, repeat the tendencies and policies of its predecessors. A board of lawyers taking charge of the execution of what remains to be done in the spirit of a public service may be depended upon to bring it to a prompt and satisfactory conclusion. Having proceeded so far, the only course is to keep on until a systematized body of statute law is an accomplished fact. That the people of this Commonwealth have a right to demand, because it is their welfare which is primarily and fundamentally at stake. When it is realized it will be time to consider more effective means for its preservation than the present methods of legislation afford. Much can be done in that direction without any interference with the functions of the Legislature. But to undertake too much at this juncture is not a wise policy. The pressing need now is a body of clear, certain, coherent and readily accessible statute law, and its creation will be an event of the first magnitude in the legal history of the State. (Applause.)
Gentlemen, it gives me very great pleasure to present to you Dr. Masujima, of Japan, who has come all this great distance to meet his brethren of the law in this country and to address us to-night. He is in the room and I know you would like to see him and be presented to him.
Gentlemen, I am much pleased at being invited to attend your annual meeting, and I am very glad to have the opportunity of paying my respects to you.
We will now have the pleasure of listening to a paper on the "Commercial Code" by Judge Lyman D. Brewster, of Connecticut.
A COMMERCIAL CODE.
The word "code" has received in the history of jurisprudence a great variety of definitions, varying in different. countries and at different times. Even among Englishspeaking peoples it has sometimes included all forms of digests as well as the consolidations and revisions of
But, as the word is now used with reference to that modern partial codification, which, to a certain extent, in regard to commercial law, is almost universally favored, I know of no better definition than that given by Sir Courtenay Ilbert in his recent and admirable work on "Legislative Methods and Forms" (1901).
"In its strictest sense," he says, "it means an orderly and authoritative statement of the leading rules of law on a given subject, whether the rules are to be found in the statutes or in common law. Taking this as a fair definition, the genesis, or, as it is the fashion nowadays to say, "the evolution," of the first English code on commercial law was as simple as it was natural.
A studious English lawyer - Mr. M. D. Chalmers, now Parliamentary Counsel to the Treasury, a born draftsman
and so far removed from a radical "Benthamite" as it
is possible for an Oxford man to be read over carefully all the reported English cases on the law of "Bills and Notes" and put their substance in an admirable digest. This digest proved at once so serviceable that the merchants and bankers of Great Britain insisted that it should be drafted in the form of a code and have the authority of legislative sanction. After its redrafting in the form of a code and a great deal of committee work on it, both in and out of Parliament, by merchants, bankers and lawyers, it was passed in 1882 by both Houses as "The Bills of Exchange Act." It proved to be a success every way both for laymen and lawyers, and was soon adopted in the British colonies.
Equally simple and natural was its introduction into the United States. In 1895 a small body of American lawyers appointed by several States - New York State having initiated the movement - for the purpose of promoting uniform State laws on certain subjects wherein existing laws were varient, uncertain and often conflicting. recognized in the English "Bills of Exchange Act" a convenient and excellent basis for an American law on the same subject, and this partial codification seemed to them, after much study thereon, almost the only practicable method of obtaining the uniformity they were deputed to secure.
The result was Mr. Crawford's "Negotiable Instruments Law."
Mr. Crawford proved so ready and able a draftsman that his predecessor, Mr. Chalmers, said in his address before the American Bar Association last summer:
"If I could do the work over again I could produce a better act, and I am glad to see that you, in your Nego
tiable Instruments Act which has now been adopted by so many States, have in many respects improved on the English measure."
The Negotiable Instruments Law has been enacted in about one-half of the States of the Union, and it is probably only a question of time when it will be enacted in all. It is satisfactory, so far as I can learn, to the merchants, bankers and business men of every State in which it has been adopted. The substantial law of over 10,000 cases, of over 3,000 pages in a text-book, is put into thirty-six pages. In many sections every line settles a disputed point. Is the Conference wrong in saying "Solvitur
At any rate, the Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, having found this partial commercial code the only law proposed by them which has obtained any general adoption, has this year engaged Professor Samuel Williston, of the Law School of Harvard University, to begin the preparation of a code on "Sales," which will have the same advantage in building on thorough work already done in the mother country which the Negotiable Instruments Law had, in that it will, to some extent, follow the English "Sales of Goods Act" of 1893, drafted by the draftsman of the "Bills of Exchange Act."
If England had followed the "Bills of Exchange Act" with codes of the other branches of commercial law, the path of the Conference would have been comparatively simple and easy so far as commercial law is concerned. But, unfortunately, no other branches has, as yet, been codified except "Sales" and "Partnership" and an
excellent code on "Marine Insurance," which still awaits the action of the House of Commons.