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it, although precision should be aimed at, it will not be held bad because technical language is not employed in the statement of the grounds of complaint. "A petition of right is framed like an article in a newspaper. It talks of persons being highly respectable and trustworthy gentlemen, and so on. It is not a pleading in the ordinary acceptation of the term, but it is framed in most general terms" (per Willes in Tobin v. Reg., 32 L. J. C. P. at p. 224; 8 L. T. 730, at p. 730; 11 W. R. 915, at p. 916). "A petition of right, instead of being concise and definite, may be in very vague and wide terms" (per Erle, C.J., ibid. at pp. 221, 732, 915 respectively). There is one rule, however, which should be observed with regard to it, and which is thus given by Chitty (Prerog. p. 245, ed. 1820). "The petition must state the whole of the title or titles or claim of the Crown, for if it be found by a writ of search (see notes to sect. 5) that any title of the king be omitted, the petition shall abate, and the reason of it is because if, on this suit of petition the king shall take an issue with the party which is found against him, his highness then shall be concluded for evermore to claim by any of the points contained in the said petition" (quoting Settle, J., in Y. B. 9 Ed. 4, fol. 51, Staunford, Prerog. 73 b; Finch, Law, 256; 3 Black. Com. 256). And this statement of the conveyances or acts which give possession to the king must be specific, and it is not sufficient to allege them generally, e.g., that divers persons were seised, &c.," for a general statement of this sort makes the petition bad (Y. B. 3 H. 7, 6 ; Broke, Abridgment, tit. Peticion, 21). It is well also, where possible, to add an allegation that the petitioner is a British subject, as otherwise he may not be able to present a petition at all. (See Chapter VI.); and usually, where the petition arises out of matters passing between the subject and the Crown elsewhere than in England, it is added (Rustomjee v. The Queen, L. R. 1 Q. B. D. 487; 45 L. J. Q. B. 249; 34 L. T. 278; 24 W. R. 428).
The Prayer of the Petition.] A reference to form No. 1 in the Schedule shows that the statement of the facts upon which the suppliant grounds his claim is to conclude with a prayer for the relief which he considers himself entitled to. In
Staunford's time (temp. Eliz.) the "conclusions or prayers of petition were either "general" or "special" (Prerog. fol. 73 a); the general one was a common form in these words: 66 que le roy luy face droit et reason; for the special one there was, of course, no usual form of words, as it depended entirely upon what the suppliant asked. The former was used in all cases where the restitution of property was sought by the ordinary course of proceeding upon petition, and was as much as if he had prayed restitution of that which he sueth for" (ibid.); the latter, where the same object was to be obtained by some process outside the ordinary course of proceeding, such as by the issue of a scire facias or "writ of deceit" (ibid.), in which cases the particular remedy required was asked for in the prayer. The tendency in modern cases has been to make the prayer of the petition special, the reason no doubt being that the suppliant has usually required something more than a mere restitution of property, and to proceed by a method other than the ordinary one. The following modern cases illustrate this:-Clayton v. Attorney-General (1 C. P. Cooper, 97); Taylor v. Attorney-General (8 Sim. 413); Canterbury v. Reg. (1 Phillips, 306; 12 L. J. Ch. 281; 7 Jur. 224); Re Baron de Bode (8 Q. B. 208; 10 Jur. 773); Re Rolt (4 D. & J. 44); in all of which the question was not the mere restitution of property and the prayer for (inter alia) "leave to sue the Crown by the Attorney-General joining any necessary parties" (a). Since the Act no general form of prayer has been in use; but the following are given as examples of the prayers with which petitions presented under the Act have concluded: "For £126,000 compensation for damages and losses" for an alleged breach of contract. (Churchward v. The Queen, L. R. 1 Q. B. 173; 6 B. & S. 808; 13 L. T. 57.) " A declaration of the suppliant's title to certain property, and that it ought to be granted to him; and that the same might accordingly be granted." (James v. The Queen, L. R. 17 Eq. 502; 43 L. J. Ch. 754; 30 L. T. 84; 22 W. R. 466.) "A declaration that a certain forfeiture was illegal and of no effect; or, if valid, then that the suppliant might upon certain terms be relieved from the effect thereof, and an (a) See supra, p. 143.
injunction against a certain Crown officer." (In re Brain, L. R. 18 Eq. 389; 44 L. J. Ch. 103; 31 L. T. 17; 22 W. R. 867.) "That it might be ascertained under the direction of the Court who were the testator's next of kin, and upon such next of kin being ascertained, that it might be declared that they were entitled to testator's leasehold estates; and thereupon that her Majesty would be pleased to direct by a warrant under her sign manual that the Treasury solicitor (in whom the leaseholds were vested), should reassign the said leaseholds to the parties entitled, and account to the same for the mesne profits, &c." (In re Gosman, L. R. 15 Ch. D. 67; 49 L. J. Ch. 590; 42 L. T. 804; 24 W. R. 14.) “A return of the amount of £750, that sum having been paid in respect of property which was not the property of the testator at the time of his death." This was a petition by executors for return of probate duty. (Perry v. The Queen, L. R. 4 Ex. 27; 19 L. T. 520; 17 W. R. 382; V.-C. Bacon v. Reg., 38 L. J. Ex. 5.) “That her Majesty may be pleased to direct the payment of the said sum mentioned in the petition to the suppliant, with interest, together with the costs of this petition." (Rustomjee v. The Queen, L. R. 1 Q. B. D. 487; 45 L. J. Q. B. 249; 34 L. T. 278; 24 W. R. 428.) "An account of what was due to the suppliant under the contract; damages in respect of the breach of contract; an injunction restraining the determination of the contract; costs and further relief" (Kirk v. The Queen, L. R. 14 Eq. 558.) "That her Majesty might do what was just and right, and cause the suppliant to be compensated and indemnified for the loss, damage, or injury sustained by him, and for further relief” (In re Tufnell, L. R. 3 Ch. D. 164; 45 L. J. Ch. 731; 34 L. T. 838; 24 W. R. 915). For an instance of a very long declaration asked for (Cooper v. The Queen, L. R. 14 Ch. D. 311; 49 L. J. Ch. 490; 42 L. T. 617; 28 W. R. 611). From the foregoing cases it will be seen that a practice has arisen of asking relief against the Crown in the prayer of the petition, in much the same terms and form as if it was a suit against the subject; thus, for instance, "orders," "declarations," and "injunctions" are freely asked for. Such a practice is at best questionable, and usually, by reason of the Crown being
defendant, wholly inapplicable. The pleader should never ask for anything in the prayer of his petition to which he was not entitled before the passing of this Act; and, in addition, should satisfy himself that he is asking for something for which judgment can be given in the terms herein provided.
The definition of the word "relief" used in this section should be noticed. "The word relief shall comprehend every species of relief claimed or prayed for in any such petition of right, whether a restitution of any incorporeal right, or a return of lands or chattels, or a payment of money or damages, or otherwise " (sect. 16, infra).
Signing the Petition.] The petition must be signed either by the suppliant, or by his counsel, or by his solicitor.
be left with
II. The said petition shall be left with the Secretary Petition to of State for the Home Department, in order that the same the Secremay be submitted to her Majesty for her Majesty's tary of gracious consideration, and in order that her Majesty, if the Home Departshe shall think fit, may grant her fiat that right be done; ment for and no fee or sum of money shall be payable by the suppliant on so leaving such petition, or upon his receiving back the same.
her Majesty's fiat.
In order that the same may be submitted, &c.] Though the Act does not expressly say so, the petition is submitted by the Home Secretary, who also advises her Majesty whether to grant or withhold her fiat. In order to render himself competent to give such advice, he usually takes the following course. He first puts himself in communication with the department of Government, if any, to which the petition relates, &c., e.g., with the War Department, Admiralty, Woods and Forests; and having forwarded to the department a copy of the petition, asks for the opinion of the department upon the claim. The department thus communicated with draws up a memorandum upon the question raised by the petition, either admitting or denying the facts upon which it is founded, and adding any additional facts which, in the opinion of the department, are material for the consideration of the case; and then returns the petition with the memorandum to the
Home Secretary, who forwards them both to the law officers of the Crown for the time being for their opinion thereon, i.e., to say whether or not the claim is a good legal one, and then advises the Crown in accordance therewith.
That it is the duty of the Home Secretary to submit the petition there seems no doubt. Thus Lord Langdale, M.R., in giving judgment in a recent case said: "I am far from thinking that it is competent for the king, or rather for his responsible advisers, to refuse capriciously to put into a due course of investigation any proper question raised on a petition of right. The form of the application being, as it is said, to the grace and favour of the king, affords no foundation for any such suggestion" (Ryves v. Duke of Wellington, 9 Beavan, 579; 15 L. J. Ch. 461; 10 Jur. 697).
A curious point in connection with this "submission of the petition" by the Home Secretary arose in a recent case, which was this: whether such a submission of the petition to the Crown as we have indicated above, viz., coupled with advice upon it to refuse the fiat, was a "submission" within the meaning of the Act. It was held that it was. The point arose as follows. One Irwin brought an action against Sir George Grey, the Home Secretary, "for not submitting to her Majesty a petition of right presented by the plaintiff under Bovill's Act, whereby he was prevented from having the same prosecuted, and had been in various ways injured and damnified." Plaintiff called the defendant, who proved that he had submitted the petition with advice not to grant the fiat. Upon which the plaintiff proposed to shew that such a submission was not a submission within the Act, but the judge (Erle, C.J.) overruled the objection, and directed a verdict for the defendant. Subsequently the plaintiff moved for a new trial before Williams, Willes and Keating, JJ., but took nothing (Irwin v. Grey, 3 F. & F. 635).
The Home Secretary, it is submitted, is not bound to disclose the advice which he may give to the Crown.
In order that her Majesty, if she shall think fit, may grant her fiat that right be done.] What the fiat is. What is called the
fiat" in this statute is equivalent to what was called the "endorsement" before it, and this "endorsement" was