Bebb V. Law Society


[1914] 1 Ch. 286 is an action that arose as a result of the Law Society refusing to allow Miss Bebb to partake in its preliminary exams. The importance of sitting the preliminary exams is to enable one to be bound by articles of clerkship and ultimately being admitted as a solicitor. Her application was rejected on the basis that she was female.
When the case was seen at first instance in front of Joyce J. the decision was found in favour of the Law Society, thus dismissing Miss Bebb's action. Joyce J. at the first instance case held that women could not become attorneys of solicitors due to the "general disability" of their sex under English Common Law. He further held that this ...

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initial action was dismissed, she was given leave to appeal the decision of Joyce J. The appeal case that ensued, is what one is going to provide a critical account of. The appeal case was heard at the Chancery Division of the Court of Appeal. The judges who heard the case were: Cozens-Hardy M.R.; Swinfen Eady L.J.; Phillimore L.J. The fundamental legal issue that is raised in this case is whether under the law women have the right to practice as solicitors or attorneys.
The plaintiff brought this action against the defendant seeking a declaration that she came within the definition of the word "person" - which was used in the Solicitors Act, 1843, and any other amending Acts. She further sought from the court a mandamus directing the law Society to admit her to sit the examination, or otherwise for an injunction preventing the defendants from refusing to admit her. The defendants main point of contention was that they were acting intra vires in refusing to admit the plaintiff to ...

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what one is left with is that no woman had neither applied, attempted or had been an attorney-at-law. He suggested that this "long uniform and uninterrupted usage" is the foundation of the greater part of the common law of the country. He added that in his view one ought to be extremely cautious before departing from such well established law. He continues to comment upon, what he considered to be irrelevant to the case, namely the extent to which the office of a solicitor is private. All that appears to be relevant to Cozens-Hardy M.R. in his deliberation is that at the time of the passing of the Solicitors Act 1843, is whether women suffered a disability to become an attorney. Since ...

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Added: 12/21/2003 02:49:37 AM
Category: Government
Words: 1518
Pages: 6

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