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Report of the Committee appointed to consider of a proper mode to be adopted to prevent the inhabitants being harassed with suit at law


The Convention resumed the consideration of the Report relative to the shutting of the Courts of Justice; which, after debate thereon, was recommitted for amendments, and the following parts were agreed to:

Resolved, That in all suits and actions now depending or commenced within this Province, where there is no real dispute, the suiters and attorneys proceed with all convenient speed to settle the same by judgment, reference, or other amicable way; and that all suits and actions now depending or commenced (where there are real disputes, and which cannot be settled in an amicable manner, or tried with justice to the parties) ought to stand and remain during these times of publick calamity in their present state and condition, or be continued until otherwise ordered by act of Assembly, or some future Convention; save and except only that bail may surrender their principals in their own discharge, and for want of other bail that the principal may be committed; and that hereafter proper provision ought to be made by act of Assembly for reinstating, re-establishing, and prosecuting the business of the Courts, and for barring the act for the limitation of suits.

Resolved, That in all suits and actions now depending or commenced, the depositions of any witness or witnesses, taken before two Justices of any County Court, or one of the Justices of the Provincial Court of this Province, in presence of the adverse party to him that requires such depositions to be taken, if upon due notice he thinks fit to be present, or upon notice doth refuse to be present, (the notice being proved,) ought to be received as good evidence in any of the Courts of this Province, as if such evidence were personally present upon the trial, and should declare the same viva voce; provided such witness or witnesses cannot be had at the trial of the cause in which such depositions shall be taken.

Resolved, That no civil original writ, suit, or action shall be commenced or renewed in any Court of Law, or any Magistrate' s warrent of a civil nature issued, within this Province, after publication and due notice of this Resolve, unless in the following cases, to wit: actions founded in


wrong done to the person or property, such as ejectment, trespass, trover, replevin, detinue; also all real actions; also actions for wards, and for money or tobacco actually had and received by one person for the use of another; attachments under the late acts of Assembly, and against persons non-resident; actions or process on Loan-Office bonds, without the license or permission of the Committee of Observation of the County where the debtors and defendants reside, which shall or may be granted in the instances and manner herein after mentioned, and not otherwise. That the said Committees respectively do, upon application, give license for bringing or prosecuting suits in the following cases, that is to say: where debtors refuse to renew their obligations or other securities, or to give reasonable security, or to liquidate and settle their accounts and, give promissory notes for the balances, or to refer their disputes, if any, to one or more indifferent persons, or are justly suspected of intention to leave the Province, or to defraud their creditors. And that the said Committees may in their discretion grant licenses in the following cases, to wit: for the bringing actions by and against executors and administrators, as such, and their securities; and for the bringing actions against guardians for the recovery of filial portions, or the rents and profits of orphans' estates.

Resolved, That no execution shall issue upon any judgment obtained in the Provincial Court after April term last, or in the County Courts after the last March adjourned Courts, without such license as aforesaid, save only in the cases above specified, or where the original actions shall be brought by license from the Committee of Observation.

Resolved, That the Committees of Observation now in being in each County, and the Committees of Frederick County, in their respective Districts, meet as soon as they conveniently can, after publication and due notice of these Resolves, and that the Committees hereafter to be chosen, meet as soon as they conveniently can, at the Court-House, or some other place agreed upon by themselves, and appoint by ballot seven of their number to be a Committee for licensing suits; which said Committees shall meet on the first and third Mondays in every month, for the purpose of receiving applications, and give notice of the place where they intend to meet.

Resolved, That it is earnestly recommended by this Convention to all the inhabitants of this Province to make payment without compulsion where they are able, or give security as above mentioned, and particularly that they pay the publick taxes and interest money due in the Loan-Office; it being the design of this Convention to prevent oppression and imprisonment of poor debtors, but not to give any pretence of non-payment to those who are of sufficient ability to pay their just debts.