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Report No. 189

The position in England

In the past, in England, the principle governing the levy of Court fee was that the salaries and pensions of judges were paid by the State out of public funds. It was being accepted that it is the obligation of the State to provide the machinery for the dispensation of justice in all its Courts - civil, criminal and revenue - and that only the other expenses of administration of justice shall be borne by the litigants. (14th Report of Law Commission, p. 505)

In this regard, the Committee on Court Fees in England presided over by Mr. Justice Macnaghten observed as follows:

"The Supreme Court is not merely engaged in the work of dispensing justice to the private suitors who resort there; it administers public justice not only in criminal cases but also in civil maters, such as proceedings on the crown side of the King's Bench. For the cost of administration of justice, where the public itself is directly concerned, the State ought, it is suggested to provide the necessary funds, since there can be no reason why the private suitors should do so. Though it would no doubt be difficult to calculate exactly how much of the expenditure of the Supreme Court is attributable to the administration of public, as distinguished from private justice, the salaries and pensions paid to the judges may perhaps be taken to represent fairly that figure." (quoted in the Second Interim Report of the Committee on Supreme Court Practice and Procedure, p. 43)

A learned author Dr. R.M. Jackson points out the dependence of Royal Justice in England in part at least, on the profits earned out of the administration of justice:

"In the past the growth of royal justice was partly due to the profits that accrued from exercising jurisdiction. The early inherent justice were more concerned with safeguarding the king's fiscal rights than with the trial of ordinary actions. A law Court was expected to pay for itself and show a profit for the king. It is some time since justice has been a substantial source of income, but the old idea survives in the idea that the Courts ought not to be run at a loss." (see 'Machinery of Justice in England', 5th Ed. p. 324) (emphasis supplied)

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