No. 28
26th November 1869
My Lord,
I have the honor to forward for Your Lordship's consideration a letter addressed to you by Mr Crease the Attorney General of this Colony accompanied by one directed to myself on the subject of the scale ofFeesManuscript image Fees payable to him for professional services rendered to the Crown.
2. These communications though dated the 1st September did not reach me until the middle of October when I returned from my tour on the Mainland.
3. The subject is one with which I find some difficulty in dealing, as in no Colony of which I have any personal experience has the AttorneyGeneralManuscript image General received special remuneration beyond his fixed Salary for services rendered to the Government. The case, however, may be different in the Crown Colonies with which I have not been acquainted, and I should observe that the Attorney General's salary is small for his rank and the importance of his office; and is certainly very moderate having reference to the costofManuscript image of living.
4. Under these circumstances I shall be glad to be furnished with Your Lordship's instructions upon a matter which it appears from these papers my predecessor intended to bring under your notice.
I have the honor to be,
My Lord,
Your most obedient
humble Servant
A. Musgrave
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Cox
It was ruled in Hong Kong that the Coll Law Officer had no right to receive any fee for doing Law Work for a Govt Dept.
You & Mr Holland may wish for the papers. The case arose in 1863.
WR 5 Jan 70
Manuscript image
Mr Holland
If you do they shall be looked up.
CC 6/1
Manuscript image
Mr Cox
I should like to see them. I imagine that the Attorney General in most Colonies as in England receives fees for conducting criminal prosecutions.
HTH 6.1.70
Manuscript image
Mr Round
The papers to be got up are Govr of H Kong 106 May 1863, 172 Sept 63, F.O. 9335.
WR 7/1/70
Manuscript image
Mr Holland herewith.
WR 7/1/70
Manuscript image
Sir F. Rogers
All that was decided in the H Kong case was that a Colonial Law Officer receiving a Salary from a ColonialManuscript image Government is not bound to perform gratis Law work for a department of the Imperial Govt.
But Mr Mercer states in his Despatch of 24 Sept 1863 (11224/63 HK) that no fees are allowed or required for the prosecution of a case having its origin in HK.
I have looked through several Blue Books of different Colonies, and it would seem that in some Colonies the Attorney General is entitled to fees beyond the Salary, but in cases (like Mauritius & Ceylon) where the Salary is high, he is not so entitled.
But perhaps it is hardly necessary to look further into this matter, as the question for consideration in this case is not whether the AG of B Columbia should receive fees—fees having been charged for a long series of years—but what is the proper scale of fees.
The scale which had been sometime in force was altered temporarily in 1868, but without any examination of the AG, or as far as appears, of any legal officer.
This scale was objected to by the AG & he submits another—and more liberal—scale for consideration.
No sufficient information is given in these papers to enable Ld G to decide between theManuscript image two scales of fees. I should so inform the Govr & recommend that an inquiry be held in the Colony, at which the AG and other persons acquainted with these matters should be examined. I would also suggest that the opinion of the Judges should be taken.
I would commence by informing the Govr that the practice as to the AG receiving fees varies in different Colonies, but that, looking to the long series of years during which fees have been received by the AG in B Columbia & the amount of Salary allowed to the AG, which is admitted to be small for his rank & for the importance of his office, Ld G conceives that the real question for consideration in this case is not whether the AG should continue to receive fees, but what is a proper scale of fees for him to receive.
That no sufficient information is given to enable Ld G to decide between the scale of 1868 & the scale submitted by the AG, & then recommend an inquiry as above.
HTH 8.1.70
Manuscript image
Mr Crease, who, as far as I have been able to observe, does not do his work very well, appears to be of opinion that he should be paid for all the work he does for Govt and,Manuscript image for some reason which is not evident, should also continue to receive his salary of 500£.
I agree that we have not sufft information, either as to the amount of work wh the Atty G. does or as to the amount of reimbursment he receives to settle anything.
Manuscript image
As to the general question, wh it is as well to consider—
The systems of paying largely by fees offers a temptation to making work—that of paying wholly by salary to scamping work. I am inclined to think that, as between these two, & having reference to possibility of dismissal, effectivness of lay supervision & expectation of promotion, the first of these evils is more difficult for a Govt to counteract than the second.
But I am not sure that a system of small fees—enough to be a poor remuneration for trouble, added to a small salary may not be the best of all.
Therefore, and also because the fee system is established in B.C., I should not be disposed to require its alteration.
I should write to this effect to Gov. Musgrave—inviting his opinionManuscript image however on the subject of paying by fees & simple salary—as he must have had some varied experience (and has read law a little).
With regard to the scale of fees I would observe that Ld G has no means of finding what is the amount of work imposed on Mr Crease and what the amount of emolument he is likely to derive from either of the proposed scales.
That in certain Colonies in wh the AG receives no fees for Govt work (and in some of wh the expense of living was great) the salaries of that officer was as follows:
Maurs 1500
Ceylon 1500 (add some
HK 1500 smaller ones)
BG 1500
Manuscript image
That the proportion wh the salaries bear to the salaries of judges and other principal officers of Govt will be seen by the Col. O. List. That subject to any Local conn wh Mr M may be able to allege Mr Crease's fees should be so regulated that his whole emolument should bear the same proportion to those of other Govt officers in B.C. as the Atty Genls salaries bear in other Colonies.
That the Colonial accounts will, it is presumed shew what has been the annual amount of fees recd by Mr Crease and for what kind of work, and this being settled it will probably not be difficult so to adjust the rate of fees as to give him fair security for such income as he ought to have from Govt.
Manuscript image
Suggest that in matters, if any, which originate with the Atty General, it may be desirable to fix the fee at such a medium rate as to afford the least possible inducement either to make or to escape work.
Direct Mr M. to inform Mr C. that Ld G. has not been able to form any judgement from the papers sent to him as to the amount of fees properly payable to the Atty G. and has required a further report from the Govr.
FR 10/1
G 12/1
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
H.P.P. Crease, Attorney General, to Granville, 1 September 1869, submitting a scale of fees for legal services, with explanation.
Manuscript image
Crease to Musgrave, 1 September 1869, further explanation on the question of fees.
Manuscript image
W.A.G. Young, Colonial Secretary, to Crease, 31 August 1868, asking that a fee scale be drawn up and providing the maximum amounts previously granted.
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft reply, Granville to Musgrave, No. 6, 22 January 1870.