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Bell's Weekly Messenger, No.1810, Sunday, December 5, 1830

[Bankrupts, Insolvent debtors]

Several liberal-minded men in the City are contemplating an appeal to parliament on the subject of the laws relating to insolvent debtors, and those relating to bankrupts. The arguments on which they ground their appeal are included in the following epitome of their opinions:— The limitation of the Law of Arrest, and the curtailment of the period of imprisonment, were, they say, the original intention of the Insolvent Act, which was in fact a minor bankrupt law, although it did not afford protection to the insolvent against imprisonment, and the future liability of his property to his creditors, as was the case in bankruptcy. The trader, whose creditors were numerous, and debts large, found but trifling difficulty in going through the Gazette. During the progress of the commission he was protected from a prison, while the insolvent, a little trader, without means of obtaining such extensive credit, was arrested, sent to gaol, and obliged to seek his deliverance through the Insolvent Act, by which all his future property was rendered liable to his creditors, and from which the bankrupt was freed by virtue of his certificate. Whatever expedition might be used to facilitate the discharge of the insolvent, two months generally passed away before it was obtained—an evil often complained of by the Commissioners as well as the insolvent, and mainly attributable to the great dearth of respectable attornies in the Court. Another evil arose from the protracted adjournment of the sittings of the Insolvent Court ; greatly extending the length of the imprisonment of those debtors who sought their discharge through that channel. The Commissioners are authorised to adjourn for six weeks after the last day of Trinity Term,—a clause introduced under the idea that every prisoner committed previously to the end of that term would obtain his liberation within that period. The Commissioners adjourned about the 12th of August, and until the 21st of September, and then sat ten days, after which they adjourned until the beginning of November, and during the whole of the interval the prisoners were locked up and subject to the horrible contamination of a gaol. It is greatly regretted that a clause has been introduced in the bill for the better regulation of justice in England and Wales, repealing the Lords' Act, which has existed since the reign of George II., and by its merciful provision delivered hundreds of indigent men from the grasp of unfeeling creditors and mercenary lawyers. It enabled the poor debtor charged in execution to obtain his discharge in a summary way, and at a trifling expense, and compelled the creditor to pay 3s. 6d. a-week as long as the debtor should remain in prison at his suit. The persons who exist upon the enormity of their costs, and the folly of those who employ them, are new most active in issuing writs ca. sa., and the prisons are filled with wretched beings, who are too poor to seek relief from the Insolvent Act, as it would cost more to petition the Court than the debt originally amounted to.—Times.