A Protest against Law Taxes

Jeremy Bentham

Footnote #04
Expense of litigation vs. income

In England, the expense of carrying through a Common action, cannot be less than about £24 at the lowest rate, on the plaintiffs side alone, [See Schieffer on Costs, 1792.] The average expense of civil suits of all sorts, taking equity causes into the account, can surely not be rated at less than double that amount, on that one side. The average expenditure of an English subject, infants and adults, rich as well as poor, taken together, has been computed by Davenant (as quoted somewhere on this occasion by Adam Smith) at £8 a-year. Six years income then is what a man must have in advance, before he can be admitted to take his chance for justice. Of many estimates which Dr. Anderson had met with, £20; was the highest, and he takes but ten pounds. [Interest of Britain with regard to her colonies, London, 1792.] No man then we may say at any rate, can have the benefit of justice, in the ordinary way, either in making good a just claim, or saving himself from an unjust one, who cannot find, for this purpose alone, a sum equal to several years of a man's income. From this statement it needs not much study to perceive, that for the bulk of the community, as far as ordinary cases of the civil kind are concerned, justice is but an empty name.

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A Protest against Law Taxes