1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Skinner's Case

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SKINNER'S CASE, the name usually given to the celebrated dispute between the House of Lords and the House of Commons over the question of the original jurisdiction of the former house in civil suits. In 1668 a London merchant named Thomas Skinner presented a petition to Charles II. asserting that he could not obtain any redress against the East India Company, which, he asserted, had injured his property. The case was referred to the House of Lords, and Skinner obtained a verdict for £5000. The company complained to the House of Commons which declared that the proceedings in the other House were illegal. The Lords defended their action, and after two conferences between the Houses had produced no result the Commons ordered Skinner to be put in prison on a charge of breach of privilege; to this the Lords replied by fining and imprisoning Sir Samuel Barnardiston, the chairman of the company. Then for about a year the dispute slumbered, but it was renewed in 1669, when Charles II. advised the two Houses to stop all proceedings and to erase all mention of the case from their records. This was done and since this time the House of Lords has tacitly abandoned all claim to original jurisdiction in civil suits.

See Lord Holles, The Grand Question concerning the Judicature of the House of Peers (1689) ; T. P. Taswell-Langmead, English Constitutional History (1905) ; L. O. Pike, Constitutional History of the House of Lords (1894); and H. Hallam, Constitutional History, vol. iii. (1885).

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