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answer as to his mere belief of the intention of another person. Upon what facts can such a belief be founded, and what effect could it have had in this case upon the matter under investigation? The answer, if it had been ever so fully given, would not have been admissible as evidence, one way or the other, in any court before which the fact of the bankrupt's situation could be made the subject of inquiry.
Law and Knight, contra. First, it is quite immaterial whether the questions put at the close of the examination were relevant and legal or not, and it is equally immaterial whether the answers given to them were satisfactory or not; because previous questions had been asked which were clearly legal and relevant, to which answers had been given which were clearly unsatisfactory: therefore the commissioners, looking at the examination altogether, which they were entitled to do, were justified in committing the prisoner. For all these positions the case of Ex parte Vogel (a) is an express authority. It was there held, under circumstances very similar to the present, that the true criterion by which to judge as to the propriety of the commitment of a witness by commissioners of bankrupt, was to consider all the questions and answers collectively, and then to say whether the whole examination was satisfactory or not; and that though the commissioners in their warrant set out several questions, to some of which, taken alone, the answers were satisfactory, that was no objection to a warrant committing the witness till he should answer satis-; factorily to particular questions put to him, and which he had not answered satisfactorily. The Lord Chief Justice, there observed, that the only way to come to a proper conclusion was to look at all the questions and answers collectively, and to consider them as constituting one entire examination ; and the prisoner in that case was remanded, because the result of his examination, so considered, was
(a) 2 B. & A. 219.
unsatisfactory, though his answers to some of the questions put to him were satisfactory. Secondly, the questions as to the prisoner's belief of the bankrupt's intention in going BAGSTER, to Ipswich, were relevant, fair and legal questions. In the case already cited, a witness was asked questions as to when and where he had last seen the bankrupt's wife; and it was held that they were legal and material questions, and that the commissioners were justified in committing him for giving unsatisfactory answers. In Miller's case (a) it was held, that the statement of a witness that he could not positively recollect a fact, but should rather believe the affirmative, was a full and satisfactory answer: therefore, if belief constitutes a satisfactory answer, it follows that inquiry into the belief of a witness forms a legal and proper question. Besides, the other parts of the examination in this case shew that the questions objected to were proper questions. The prisoner had admitted that he, the bankrupt's brother, had struck the docket against him, and that he had received goods from the bankrupt after he had inquired into the state of his debts and assets ; so that there was very good reason for asking what had passed between them immediately previous to the 'docket being struck, and what was the bankrupt's intention in making the visit to his brother : and nothing could have been more easy, had the prisoner been inclined to act openly and honestly, than to answer that inquiry fully and frankly. Thirdly, the prisoner's answers to some questions, looking at the examination as a whole, were decidedly unsatisfactory, and perfectly justified his commitment. An inclination to fence and shuffle with the questions, 'to evade explanation, and to suppress truth, is apparent through his whole examination; and to one question in particular he returned an answer which it was utterly impossible for any human being to believe. He at last declared that nothing at all passed between him and the bankrupt at the meeting
(a) 2 W. Bla. 881.
Ex parte BAGSTER.
at Ipswich, though he had previously stated that nothing of importance passed, admitting clearly that something passed. Therefore, that nothing passed at that meeting, no man could believe; and the commissioners were not bound to believe it, contrary to their own common sense and understanding, merely because the prisoner swore it. Trying the case, then, by the test proposed in Ex parte Vogel, and looking at the examination as a whole, the answers of the witness were clearly unsatisfactory, and the commissioners were justified in committing him.
Lord TENTERDEN, C. J.- This is an extremely important question as regards the powers and the duties of commissioners of bankrupt, and we will take time to confer together, and deliberate upon the subject, before we express any opinion on the case.
Cur. ado. vult.
The judgment of the Court was afterwards delivered by
Lord TENTERDEN, C. J., who, after stating the nature of the case and the substance of the examination, thus proceeded :-We have conferred together upon the point raised in this case. Looking at the whole of the examination together, it is quite clear that it was, generally speaking, a proper examination, and that the prisoner was not at all inclined to make a full and fair statement of the facts within his knowledge. To one of the questions asked him, relative to what passed between himself and the bankrupt at their interview at Ipswich, he at last gave a direct negative, having previously given to the same question a qualified affirmative. His language throughout shews that his object was to evade inquiry. But we think the answer to the last question, upon which the prisoner was committed, did not justify his commitment, because the question itself was not of a nature to call for a more explicit answer. The question was, what was the prisoner’s belief as to the
intention of his brother in going to Ipswich. Now there is nothing in the previous parts of the examination to shew that the prisoner's belief upon that point was material to any of the objects of the commission, or to any of the matters within the jurisdiction of the commissioners. What the prisoner might believe upon that subject is not, made to appear to have any relation to the person, the trade, the dealing, or the estate of the bankrupt. It may, in point of fact, have had such relation, and that fact might have been made to appear by other preliminary questions. A series of questions might have been put to him, so as to shew that his belief with respect to his brother's intention was material with reference to his own subsequent conduct; and the commissioners were undoubtedly entitled to ask him questions, his answers to which would render him liable to the bankrupt's estate in a civil action. But there does not appear upon the face of the examination enough to shew that the commissioners had that object in view; and that the prisoner's belief as to his brother's intention was material to the attainment of that object. The mere belief of a witness, or of any party, as to the purpose or intention of another party, is, generally speaking, vot evidence, because it is in itself a matter of perfect indifference, unless it is shewn by previous circumstances to be of importance. Looking at the examination as a whole, we are not sur, prised that the commissioners thought themselves called upon to commit the prisoner; but, for the reasons I have stated, we think they were not justified by law in so doing and therefore that the prisoner ought to be discharged.
Till and another, Assignees of Brett, a Bankrupt, v.
Wilson, a prisoner. 4.71/4 A second This was a rule calling upon the plaintiffs to shew cause commission of bankrupt
why the defendant should not be discharged out of custody issued pending as to this cause, he having obtained his certificate under a a former commission, under commission of bankrupt issued against him. which the
The defendant's affidavit, upon reading which the rule bankrupt had not obtained was drawn up, stated, that a commission of bankrupt his certificate, issued against him on the 27th September, 1827, under is void, and the certificate which he had duly and without fraud obtained his certificate; der it a nullity. that he became bankrupt, and a commission issued against
him in May, 1816, under which assignees were duly chosen, and that he did not obtain his certificate under that commission ; that in the course of the year 1818, be. began again to trade on his own account, and so continued to trade until the year 1825, during which time he contracted several debts, and among others with the petitioning creditor under the second commission, and with Brett, the bankrupt, whose assignees were the plaintiffs in this action; that since his first commission, deponent had acquired very considerable property in money and houses, and that the assignees under bis first commission had never in any way interfered with him while he was so trading, or claimed any part of his property so acquired, although he believed and had no doubt that they were well acquainted with bis so carrying on trade, and with his so acquiring property after his first commission; and that the debt in this action, and upon which he had been charged in execution, accrued before he became bankrupt, and was a debt provable under his second commission, and was contracted by Brett in the year 1823 with full knowledge of the fact that deponent was at that time an uncertificated bankrupt.
In opposition to the rule were the affidavits of Brett, the bankrupt, and of Mr. Dodd, the plaintiffs' attorney. The former stated, that deponent had been intimately acquainted