1902 Encyclopedia > Venue


VENUE (from Lat. vicenetum) denotes in English law the place from which a jury must be brought for the trial of a case. The word occurs early in constitutional docu-ments, for it was for a long time one of the essentials of trial by jury that the jury should belong to the neighbour-hood in which the cause of action arose or the alleged crime was committed (see JURY). The phrase duodecim legates homines de viceneto or its equivalent is found in the Con-stitutions of Clarendon (1164), the Assize of the Forest (1184), and in Glanvill. In civil matters venue became after a time divided into local and transitory, the former where the cause of action could only have arisen in a particular county, such as trespass to land, the latter where it might have arisen in any county, such as debt. In the latter case the plaintiff might lay the venue where he pleased, subject to the power of the court or a judge to change it. The law on the subject is now only of antiquarian interest (unless, perhaps, in certain actions on penal statutes), for it is enacted by the Rules of the Supreme Court, 1883 (Ord. xxxvi. r. 1), that there shall be no local venue for the trial of any action, except where otherwise provided by statute. The plaintiff may name his place of trial ; where no place of trial is named the place is to be the county of Middlesex. The court or a judge has discretion to alter the place of trial. In criminal practice venue is still of importance, though not as much so as formerly since the large powers of amendment of indictments given by recent legislation. The venue is named in the margin of an indictment in this form, "Middlesex to wit." By 14 and 15 Vict. c. 100 it is unnecessary to state any venue in the body of an indictment, and no indictment is to be held bad for want of a proper perfect venue.

Numerous Acts provide for, inter alia, the laying of the venue in the case of offences committed partly in one county and partly in another, or on the high seas, or abroad, and of special offences, such as those under the Tost Office, Merchant Shipping, Slave Trade, and Foreign Enlistment Acts. The place of trial may be changed by the Queen's Bench Division, chiefly where it is rendered probable that a fair trial could not be had in the county of the venue.

In Scotch law venue is not used as a technical term ; but there are statutory provisions for changing the place of trial in both civil and criminal cases.

In the United States venue may generally be changed by the courts ; but in some States it is provided by their constitutions that provision for change of venue is to be made by the legislature. In other States the passing of local or special laws for change of venue is forbidden.


' 1 Phil. Trans., T&&7, vol. clxxviii. B, p. 61.

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