Highways Board v Overseers of Goytrey 1867


Saturday January 26 1867

NON PAYMENT OF CALL – The Pontypool and Usk Highway Board v The Overseers of Goytrey, for non-payment of a call made by the Board.   Our readers will remember that this case was adjourned five weeks ago for the purpose of obtaining the opinion of the Home Secretary on a point of construction of the Highway Act, raised by Mr. Llewellin for the defendants. Mr. Blount for the Highway Board, handed in the reply of the Home Secretary to the application that had been made to him, wherein he said the magistrates must decide the question. The Chairman said they would have been glad if they had been relieved of the duty of deciding a point on which two learned advocates differed; but as it was left to them they must deal with it as well as they could, and which they should do with all diffidence. What they had to do was decide the proper construction to be put on the words “no contribution to be paid by any parish at any one time in respect of highway rates shall exceed the sum of ten-pence in the pound.” It was admitted that the contribution ordered to be paid by the Overseers of Goytrey exceeded ten pence in the pound, but it was contended that as the contribution was in the precept ordered to be paid in two instalments neither of which exceeded ten pence in the pound, the limitation had not been exceeded. Now he had carefully gone through the Highway Acts and could not find any authority for dividing a contribution which had been ordered, into instalments, neither the word instalment nor its equivalent could be found in the acts connected with the payment of contributions; it might be very convenient to the overseers of a parish to be authorised to pay a contribution in instalments, and he did not mean to say that the Board had not the power of giving that convenience, but he did think that the act never intended that a contribution exceeding ten pence in the pound could be ordered and afterwards broken up into instalments so as to keep all payments within that limited sum; if so, there is nothing to prevent a contribution of 30d in the pound, the full amount in any year the board of its own power can order, and then calling on the parish to pay it in three equal instalments in three consecutive weeks or days – that is an extreme view, but if the principle of instalments contended for be good, it is as good for that view of the case, which never could be intended. After several further remarks, the Chairman said the Bench felt the more satisfied that they were putting a reasonable construction on the act because they found that the overseers are to pay the contribution out of a rate to be levied by them, if they have not money in hand to pay it. If therefore the Highway Board cannot order a contribution to be paid by any parish at any one time that exceeds ten pence in the pound, it follows that the overseers cannot make a rate that exceeds ten pence in the pound, which the Goytrey overseers would have to do to meet this call which is made on them, the overseers being only empowered to levy a rate for “the sum to be contributed by the parish,” that sum being the contribution ordered, not the instalments of that contribution, for levying a rate for which we do not find any power or authority given to them by the Highway Acts. We therefore decline making any order, and dismiss this summons. Mr Blount asked if the bench would give him a case for the opinion of the superior courts. The Bench said if they could give him a case he should have it, as they had no objection to having their opinion reviewed.


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