White Divorce Bill

CourtHouse of Lords (Ireland)
Judgment Date17 April 1920
Date17 April 1920
Docket Number(No. 1.)
White's Divorce Bill.
(No. 1.)

[House of Lords.]

H. L. (Ir.)

Petition to sue in forma pauperis—Delay it taking proceedings.

In a proper case the House of Lords will allow a petitioner in a Divorce Bill to prosecute his bill in forma pauperis.

George Alfred White petitioned the House that he may be admitted to prosecute his Bill in forma pauperis.

A petitioner from poverty was unable to take proceedings for a divorce a vinculo for about ten years, when he heard he might be allowed to sue in forma pauperis. It was proved that the petitioner was a motor-mechanic, now earning about £3 a week; but ten years ago was only earning 30s. or £2 a week,

The House (Lord Birkenhead L.C., Viscount Finlay, Viscount Cave, Lord Atkinson, and Lord Shaw of Dunfermline) held that delay was not a fatal bar, and that the evidence showed it was not the fault of the petitioner that proceedings for a divorce a vinculo were not taken earlier.

Lord Birkenhead L.C. said: "Mr. Scanlon, the practice of their Lordships in cases of long delay, such as is found in this case, is not to sanction the proceedings unless it is clearly shown that the delay was not due to negligence on the part of the petitioner; and those who take advantage of these proceedings ought clearly to understand that that practice will be insisted on as it has been in the past.

"The circumstances which have been proved by the petitioner in this...

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