Houlden v Smith

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date26 February 1850
Date26 February 1850
CourtCourt of the Queen's Bench

English Reports Citation: 117 E.R. 323


Houlden against Smith

S. C. 19 L. J. Q. B. 170; 14 Jur. 598. Adopted, Kemp v. Neville, 1861, 10 C. B. N. S. 551; Mayor of London v. Cox, 1867, L. R. 2 H. L. 263.

[841] houlden against smith. Tuesday, February 26th, 1850. A Judge of a Court of Record ia answerable in an action for an act done by his command, when he has no jurisdiction and is not misinformed as to the facts on which jurisdiction depends. The plaintiff, who dwelt and carried on business at Cambridge, out of the jurisdiction of the Spilsby County Court, was sued in that òCourt by leave of the Judge, under stat. 9 & 10 Viet. c. 95, s. 60, the cause of action having arisen within the jurisdiction of the Court; and judgment was duly obtained against him. Afterwards, while the plaintiff still dwelt and carried on business at Cambridge, a judgment summons was issued by order of the Judge of the Spilaby Court, under sect. 98, calling upon the plaintiff to be examined as to his estate and effects; and, the plaintiff not appearing, the Judge, knowing the facts, but believing, nevertheless, that he had authority, made an order that the plaintiff should be committed for his contempt. Held, that the commitment was without jurisdiction ; and that, as the Judge had ordered it under a mistake of the law and not of the facts, he was liable in trespass. [S. C. 19 L. J. Q. B. 170; 14 Jur. 598. Adopted, Kemp v. Neville, 1861, 10 C. B. K S. 551; Mayor of London v. Cox, 1867, L. R. 2 H. L. 263.]'l^r. j -; -;.?. Trespass for false imprisonment. Pleas: 1. Not guilty. Issue thereon. 2. That defendant acted under stat. 9 & 10 Viet. c. 95, and that a month's notice of action was not given. Replication : that there was notice. Issue thereon. On the trial, before Parke B., at the Cambridge Summer Assizes, 1848, a verdict was found for the plaintiff, subject to the opinion of this Court upon a case, of which the substance was as follows. The defendant was Judge of the County Court of Lincolnshire holden at Spilsby. The plaintiff dwelt and carried on his business at Cambridge, out of the district assigned to the Spilsby Court. The defendant, on the 8th July 1847, gave leave to () 1 C. M. & R. 834; S. C. 5 Tyr. 520. (b) See Doe dem. Davenish v. Mo/at, 15 Q. B. 257. 324 HOULDEN V. SMITH 14 Q. B. 842. two persons of the names of Young and Madden to summon plaintiff to the Spilsby Court on a cause of action which had accrued in the district of that Court. Plaintiff was summoned at Cambridge; he did not appear; and, on proof of the summons, judgment was given against him by default. This judgment being unsatisfied, Young and Madden, the plaintiffs in the plaint, applied for, and obtained from the County Court, a judgment summons, under stat. 9 & 10 Viet. c. 95, s. 98, calling on the plaintiff, as defendant in the plaint, to appear in the [842] County Court, holden at Spilsby, in order to be examined by the Judge of that Court, and giving him notice that, in case of his not appearing, be might be committed to the common gaol at Spilsby. This summons was served on the plaintiff at Cambridge, where he resided, out of the district of the Spilsby Court. The plaintiff having disregarded this summons, and not appearing at the Spilsby Court, and the service of tbe last mentioned summons having been duly proved, the defendant, whilst acting as and in the capacity of Judge of the Spilsby County Court, and bona fide believing he had power and authority as such Judge to make such an order, made, in the minute book of the Spilsby Court, a memorandum in the action in that Court, ordering that the defendant in the plaint,, the now plaintiff, should for his contempt be committed to Cambridge gaol. A warrant issued accordingly; and the plaintiff was taken under it and imprisoned in Cambridge gaol until discharged on habeas corpus. Notice of action given in due time was-proved (a). The case was argued in last term (J). Watson for the plaintiff. The proceedings in the County Court were regular until the judgment summons issued. By stat. 9 & 10 Viet. c. 95, s. 98, any party who has obtained an unsatisfied judgment in any Court holden under that Act may obtain such a summons from " any County Court within the limits of which any other party shall then dwell or carry on his business." This does not authorise such an application to the [843] Court in which such judgment was obtained, unless the defendant reside or carry on his business within its limits; therefore the defendant, the Judge of the Spilsby Court, had no jurisdiction to issue the summons, and consequently no jurisdiction to commit for the alleged contempt. It probably will not be denied on the part of the defendant that the imprisonment was wrongful: and it is admitted by the plaintiff that, when a Judge comes to a wrong conclusion either of law or of fact, he is not responsible for such a wrong decision, if it be in a matter over which be has jurisdiction. But, when a Judge...

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21 cases
  • Re McC. (A Minor)
    • United Kingdom
    • House of Lords
    • November 22, 1984
    ...liable in damages for consequences flowing from a purported exercise of the jurisdiction held to be beyond the relevant limit. 42 In Houlden v. Smith (1850) 14 Q.B. 841 the defendant was the judge of the Spilsby County Court in Lincolnshire. His jurisdiction was limited to a geographical ar......
  • John O'Connor v George Alfred Isaacs and Others
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal
    • April 30, 1956
    ....... . 37 The case of ( Sommerville v. Mirehouse 1 Best & Smith's Reports, page 652 ) is interesting as showing the view of Mr Justice Hill in the year 1860. That, again, was an action against Justices, and the ......
  • R v Manchester City Magistrates' Court, ex parte Davies
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • July 29, 1988
    ...phrase of Lord Coke in the Marshalsea case (1613) 10 Co. Rep. 68b at p.76a. A simple example of a case in this category is provided by Houlden v. Smith (1850) 14 Q.B. 841 where the plaintiff recovered damages because he had been imprisoned by the order of a county court judge whose jurisdic......
  • Paul Magennis and Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service
    • United Kingdom
    • Queen's Bench Division (Northern Ireland)
    • January 27, 2022
    ...no jurisdiction to order imprisonment may be liable for false imprisonment…” 9 [28] An example of just such a case is Houlden v Smith (1850) 14 QB 841. The defendant was a county court judge in Lincolnshire. His jurisdiction was geographically limited, and did not include Cambridge. The pla......
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