Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION XII.: SITTINGS, TIMES OF. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 3
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SECTION XII.: SITTINGS, TIMES OF. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 3 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 3.
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SITTINGS, TIMES OF.
Art. 1. Exceptions excepted, every day in the year will the Judge of the Dispatch Court sit on duty:—hours, not fewer than ; that is to say, from  in the morning till  in the afternoon.
Art. 1*. Every day: duty of the Dispatch Court Judge, why rendered thus assiduous?
i. If for so much as a single moment, delay of justice,—that is to say, denial of justice for the time,—is an evil, so is it at each succeeding moment; and the greater the number of such successive moments, the greater is the aggregate of the evil.
ii. Completely is it in the power of the government to put an exclusion upon this evil. Yet does it decline to do so. Why?—Answer: Even because, for the comparatively small benefit and comfort of the comparatively few to whom it is bound by the bands of a common sinister interest, it chooses with its eyes open to afflict with the immensely greater burthen and discomfort, all besides.
iii. On no day in the year does a Justice of the Peace, in a case in which he is empowered to act singly,—that is to say, without another Justice of the Peace sitting and acting with him:—on no day does he scruple, or if so inclined, omit, to take cognizance of any suit which is brought before him at its commencement, or to proceed in one of which he has already taken cognizance.
iv. Justice of the Peace:—of the sort and degree of assiduity actually habitual on the part of Judges of this class, what are the causes?—Answer: These—
v. As to the sort and degree of assiduity: this requires explanation. Day on which a Justice of the Peace sits—not every day, but any day; that is to say, any day that is agreeable to him to sit. Yes: every day that it is agreeable to him to sit;—all those days, but no other days.
vi. Motives by which existence was given to this species of judicatory, what?
1. Benefit thereby afforded to the particular interests, pecuniary and quasi-pecuniary, straightforward and sinister together, of those by whom it was instituted.
2. To that same particular interest, benefit afforded in the shape of power.
3. So in the shape of amusement:—a comedy, tragedy, or tragi-comedy, acted: a dramatic entertainment; the principal part by an amateur performer—his Worship; the inferior parts, by his suitors.
vii. For the benefit of this or that sinister interest which they possess in common, Honourable Gentlemen and Noble Lords concur in the enactment of this or that Act,—whether salutary or for their conjoint benefit, predatory or oppressive. To make sure of giving execution and effect to it, they concur in constituting, each one of them,—himself and every other of them, Judges, to whom cognizance is given of all offences alleged to have been committed against this law. What is the result?—Answer: The system of procedure styled the summary:—the only system of procedure which ever had for its ends the ends of justice: in a word, to render the system perfect and applicable to all sorts of cases, so far as regards the mode of procedure, nothing wanting but certain additional powers and means, on the part of the Judiciary Establishment, certain securities for appropriate aptitude, moral, intellectual, and active; whereof those for appropriate moral aptitude are commonly called checks. Of these securities, about forty may be seen provided in Constitutional Code, Ch. XXI. Judiciary Collectively, § 32. Securities for appropriate aptitude.
viii. “When sleeps Injustice, so may Justice too.” Too often repeated can never be, till it is profited from, this memoriter verse. As often as a measure of sham law reform is in discussion in either House,—and into neither have any better measures been as yet introduced,—some stentorian voice, speaking through a trombone, should lift itself up, and drown the sound of hypocritical trash on both sides.
ix. Health, recreation, and comfort of the profession, quotha? This is a paramount and predominant consideration: conclusive, for the securing of good in this shape to preeminently learned few—(for the ordinarily learned will not complain of being overburthened:)—for the small comparative ease of this minute minority of the community—for the sake of a dozen or two, or a score or two—for these it is, that the millions are to be tormented.
x. Nor is this all: for on the field of law, tyranny has place, and is exercised on a large scale: and by the lawyers in silk gowns, the lawyers in stuff gowns, by whom non-lawyers are plundered and oppressed, have themselves been oppressed and plundered of their rightful share in the common.
xi. In the cluster composed of three of the so called Equity Courts, two of the Judicatories could not be brought to sit at the same time. Why? Because had they done so, the consequence would have been, that though by this simultaneity the addition made to delay, by setting them down to operate at different times of the day, would have been done away, by which means in a correspondent degree the torment of suitors (that is to say, the relatively honest part of the number) would have been lessened, yet so would have been the mass of the fees stowed into the preeminently learned pockets shrouded by the silk gowns.
xii. After consuming the first fruits of his energy, and enfeebling his faculties, with perhaps more or less of his health, in a morning Court, in the service of one set of clients, the learned harpy gives the dregs of those same faculties to another set of clients in an evening Court. The consequence is, that those Barristers, who if the two Courts had sitten at the same time, would have been leaders in one, fail of being leaders in either. Of the suits that within a given time might have been heard, and ought to have been heard, and, if all pretended regard for justice were not a mockery, would have been heard, only half are heard. Why this addition to factitious delay? why the ever-pertinacious refusal to break down the monopoly thus established?—Answer: Because, of the whole goodly fellowship of those leaders, actual and possible, the most eminent and influential have seats in Honourable House; in which said Honourable House, if for their sakes the less influential are not kept in a state of comparative starvation, they might become troublesome: and instead of helping Ministers to plunder and oppress the subject many, might consume Honourable and Right Honourable time in debates, and obstruct the execution of the measures determined upon.
xiii. Among all these learned harpies, and in particular the arch-harpies among them, should it to any one have happened to make sacrifice of Hygeia to Plutus,—to have thus thrown away a part of his health in his search for gold,—indemnity is called for by him. Indemnity: at whose charge? At the charge of the relatively honest part of the whole population of suitors:—delay—the quantity of delay, measure of which is taken as above, organized and established. Set apart of every year is to be a large portion, during which the learned harpy is to continue feasting upon the prey seized by him, injustice all the while triumphing.
xiv. A surgeon, a physician,—what vacations, what holidays, what respite from hard and painful labour, what assistance to health by alleviation of it, have they or either of them? For any good to himself, whether in the way of pleasure, or of profit from any other source, or saving from loss, what day in the whole year can either of them stand assured of? For a shilling or two, or from efficient and unrequited benevolence, all night long, pinched with cold or drenched with rain, does the country surgeon pursue his way to the poor sufferer’s cottage. In the scale of morality and beneficence, of all professional men does not the medical man stand highest?—the indiscriminate defender of right and wrong by the indiscriminate utterance of truth and falsehood, lowest—down at the bottom, many degrees below zero—even at the point where mercury freezes?
xv. True indeed it cannot but be, forasmuch as both are men,—that as by a lawyer a suit is nursed, so by a medical practitioner, every here and there, instead of the patient, the disease. But in the case of the medical practitioner, this sacrifice of morality and the happiness of the comparatively many to the happiness of the comparatively few, is but an exception: whereas, on the part of the law practitioner, it is the universal rule. In the case of the medical practitioner, only in the less employed and inferior part of the profession is it the practice; for the most amply employed—those whose whole time is employed, have nothing to gain by any such cruel and dishonest practice: whereas in the law profession, it is by those who, being the most amply employed, are thereby possessed of the largest portion of influence, and in places in which the lot of the million depends upon the course taken by the one or the few,—it is by these, cruelly and dishonestly, that evil upon such immense scale is produced.
xvi. Not that it is upon degrees in the scale of morality that the question turns: it stands upon ground much more easily measured: it turns upon numbers. On what ground stands the claim to regard on the part of the subject-many?—on the part of the subject-many; and in particular against the lawyer tribe, and the dishonest part of their hirers, that of the relatively honest and afflicted portion of the community of suitors, added to the so much greater portion of the community consisting of those who, were they not by tyranny and corruption bereft of the means, would become suitors? Of the twenty millions or thereabouts, of which in the two islands the community is composed, where is he whose happiness has not as good a title to regard as that of any other: whatsoever may be the number of those of whose happiness, for the purchase of happiness in larger portion in the breast of others, it may be absolutely necessary to make sacrifice?
xvii. If in one shape—namely, the shape of immediate profit,—the medical practitioner has an incentive to nurse the disease,—in another shape—namely, that of reputation, obtainment of good repute and avoidance of bad repute,—he has a restriction: and whatsoever suffering would in his instance be produced by dishonest practice, it would be present to his senses: accordingly, honesty has sympathy for a corroborative.
xviii. But in the case of the law practitioner, whatsoever is done in the way of nursing the suit, is covered from the eyes of all but his accomplices and sharers in the profits of the misery-producing trade: nor in the higher branch of the profession, of the suffering produced by any mal-practice of his in any shape is any part ever, unless by mere accident, present to his senses: so that, in this case, no place is there for sympathy. By this or that question, or by purposed misrepresentation of this or that matter of fact, the law practitioner—the law practitioner of the highest order—puts the extinguisher upon this or that claim, of the well-groundedness of which neither he nor any one else to whom the state of the case is known, entertains any so much as the smallest doubt: on the occasion of which, the expectation of the party in the right is of course correspondently intense and sanguine; the disappointment produced, with its inseparably-accompanying pain, correspondently intense and severe. Of this suffering, to the senses of the solicitor presents itself, or does not, a single glance: to those of the leading advocate by whom it was caused, not so much as a momentary glimmering. Into the purse of the author of the evil have found their way some ten or twenty guineas: of the injured suitor the whole life remains drenched in bitterness, by which he is at last brought to an untimely grave.
xix. By the medical practitioner, the man whose leg has been fractured is not left to die of a mortification; the man who has a stone in his bladder is not left to suffer for years together for want of the solution or extraction of it. Whence comes this state of things?—Answer: From this. Were the sufferer to die for want of medical aid, no fee would the medical practitioner receive; were the sufferer left to suffer with the stone in his bladder for one, two, or three years, no fees all the time would the surgeon receive: in which state of things, the longer the stone remains without anything done towards ridding the sufferer of it, the longer is the time during which no fees are received:—whereas in the case of that malady, the seat or source of which is in the body-politic, the longer the delay with its attendant pain continues, the richer the profit made by the authors of it.
xx. Uniformly opposed to the interest of the client is the interest of the law practitioner: of the practitioner on the opposite side of the suit, completely; of the practitioner on his own side, not altogether, but to a considerable degree always. If it be his interest that his client, right or wrong, justly or unjustly, should gain the suit, it is not the less his interest that the expense,—and so far as that is increased by delay, the delay,—be maximized.
xxi. Partly from the close connexion between the interest on the one side and the other—partly from the sympathy produced by the spectacle of human suffering as above, beneficence—gratuitous beneficence—to a vast extent, has place in the instance of the medical practitioner; to no extent at all, in the case of the law practitioner. Of the afflicted, the number gratuitously relieved by the medical practitioner is perhaps not less considerable than the number for relief of whom remuneration is received:—in the case of the sufferer, whose suffering has injustice for its cause, inquire where you will, scarcely in a single instance will you find any such thing as gratuitous service.
xxii. Among law practitioners, infamous would that man be held, who should be known to be ready to render his appropriate service upon reduced terms: to Coventry would he be sent by the whole fraternity of his learned brethren: to consign him to utter ruin, no endeavours on their part would be wanting. For the giving increase to the present business, and extorting pay of advocacy service, by no expedient that could by human ingenuity be devised for the purpose, would any the least reproach be in this quarter incurred: approbation, if not public, at any rate secret and universal.*
Art. 2. Days excepted are as follows:—
1. All Sundays,
2. Christmas day.
3. Days hereby allowed to the Judge for health, recreation, and care of his private affairs. These are—
i. [Fourteen] days following one another, of which Christmas day is the first.
ii. [Fourteen] days following one another, of which Midsummer day is the first.
Art. 3. The Auxiliary System, as per Section XI. Auxiliary Judges, being established, the relaxation thus allowed to the Dispatch Court Judge may have place without any delay to the proceedings of the Judicatory, and accordingly without detriment to justice.
Art. 4. Power to his Majesty, by order in Council, at any time, on timely notice given in the London Gazette, with or without other periodical publication, to vary the places of the vacation days in the Calendar, so as the number of them be not increased.
[* ]An instance of ingenuity directed to this object and with this effect has very lately come to the knowledge of the author of these pages.