A "Moot" Point (1717)
buchmann at BELLSOUTH.NET
Tue Oct 29 21:30:17 UTC 2002
MEETING (from to meet, to come together, assemble, 0. Eng. mëtan ; cf. Du. moeten, Swed. möta, Goth.
gamotjan, &c., derivatives of the Teut. word for a meeting, seen in 0. Eng. mötf moot, an assembly of the
people; cf. witanagemot), a gathering together of persons for the purpose of discussion or for the transaction
of business. Public meetings may be either those of statutory bodies or assemblies of persons called together
for social, political or other purposes. In the case of statutory bodies, by-laws usually fix the quorum
necessary to constitute a legal meeting. That of limited companies may be either by reference to the capital
held, or by a fixed quorum or one in proportion to the number of shareholders. It has been held that in the case
of a company it takes at least two persons to constitute a meeting (Sharp v. Daws, 1886, 2 Q.B.D. 26). In the
case of public meetings for social, political or other purposes no quorum is necessary. They may be held, if
they are for a lawful purpose, in any place, on any day and at any hour, provided they satisfy certain statutory
provisions or by-laws made under the authority of a statute for the safety of persons attending such meetings.
If, however, a meeting is held in the street and it causes an obstruction those convening the meeting may be
proceeded against for obstructing the highway. The control of a meeting and the subjects to be discussed are
entirely witl~in the discretion of those convening it, and whether the meeting is open to the public without
payment, or subject to a charge or to membership of a specified body or society, those present are there merely
by virtue of a licence of the convenérs, which licence may be revoked at any time. The person whose licence is
revoked may be requested to withdraw from the meeting, and on his refusal may be ejected with such force as
is necessary. If he employs violence to those removing him he commits a breach of the peace for which he
may be given into custody. An important English act has dealt for the first time with the disturbance of a public
meeting. The Public Meeting Act 19o8 enacted that any person who at a lawful public meeting acts in a
disorderly manner for the purpose of preventing the transaction of the business for which the meeting was
called together shall be guilty of an offence, and if the offence is committed at a political meeting held~ in any
parliamentary constituency between the issue and return of a writ, the offence is made an illegal practice within
the meaning of the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act 1883. Any person who incites another to
commit the offence is equally guilty. A public meeting is usually controlled by a chairman, who may be
appointed by the conveners or elected by the meeting itself. On the chairman falls the duty of preserving order,
of calling on persons to speak, deciding points of order, of putting questions to the meeting
for decision, and declaring the result and other incidental matters.
In England it is illegal, by a statute of George III. (Seditious Meetings Act 1817), - to hold a public meeting in
the open air within I m. of Westminster Hall during the sitting of Parliament.
See C. P. Blackwells Law of Meetings (1910).
Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:
> A LAW DICTIONARY AND GLOSSARY, INTERPRETING SUCH DIFFICULT AND OBSCURE WORDS AND TERMS, AS ARE FOUND EITHER IN OUR COMMON STATUTE, ANCIENT OR MODERN LAWS
> by Tho. Blount
> The Third Edition
> In the SAVOY: Printed by Eliz. Nutt, and R. Gosling
> _Moot_ (from Sax. Motian(?), To treat or handle) is well understood at the Inns of Court to be that Exercise of Arguing of Cases, which young _Barrasters_ and Students perform at certain Times, for the better enabling them for Practice and Defence of Client's Causes. The Place where _Moot-Cases_ were argued, was anciently called a _Moot-Hall_, from the Sax Mopeal(?). In the Inns of Court there is a _Bailiff_ or _Surveyor of the Moots_, who is yearly chosen by the Bench, to appoint the _Mootmen_ for the Inns of Chancery, and to keep Accompt of the Performance of Exercises both there and in the House. See _Orig. Juriciales_, _fol._ 212.
> _Moothouse-Court:_ So the Hundred Court of _Bingham_ in _Nottinghamshire_ is called, and the Place where 'tis held is called the _Moothouse-Pit_. _Antiq. of Nottinghamshire_, _fol._ 71,4.
> _Mootmen_, are those that argue Readers Cases (called also _Moot-Cases_) in the Houses of _CHancery_, both in Terms and in Vacations. _Coke's Rep._ 3 _Par. in Proaemio_.
> ("Moot Court" was probably not coined by Thomas Jefferson in 1788--ed.)
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