1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Assessor

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ASSESSOR (Lat. assessare, assidere, to sit by), a Roman term originally applied to a trained lawyer who sat beside a governor of a province or other magistrate, to instruct him in the administration of the laws (see Roll, De assessoribus magistratuum Romanorum, Leipzig, 1872). The system is still exemplified in Scotland, where it is usual in the larger towns for municipal magistrates, in the administration of their civil jurisdiction, to have the aid of professional assessors. In England, by the Judicature Act 1873, the court of appeal and the High Court may in any cause or matter call in the aid of assessors. The Patents Act 1907 makes special provision for assessors in patent and trade-mark cases. By the Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1891 the House of Lords may, in appeals in admiralty actions, call in the aid of assessors, while in the admiralty division of the High Court it is usual for the Elder Brethren of Trinity House to assist as nautical assessors. In admiralty cases in the county courts, too, the judge is frequently assisted by assessors of “nautical skill and experience” (County Court Admiralty Jurisdiction Act 1868). In the ecclesiastical courts assessors assist the bishop in proceedings under the Church Discipline Act 1840, s. 11, while under the Clergy Discipline Act 1892, s. 2, they assist the chancellor in determining questions of fact. By the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876, s. 14, the king in council may make rules for the attendance of archbishops and bishops as assessors in the hearing of ecclesiastical cases by the judicial committee of the privy council.

The term “assessor” is also very generally applied to persons appointed to ascertain and fix the value of rates, taxes, &c., and in this sense the word is used in the United States.

In France and in all European countries where the civil law system prevails, the term assesseur is applied to those assistant judges who, with a president, compose a judicial court.

In Germany an Assessor, or Beisitzer, is a member of the legal profession who has passed four years in actual practice and become qualified for the position of a judge.