109. A Bill for Recovering Demands of Small Value in a Summary Way
Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that any debt, or penalty, amounting to more than twenty five shillings, or two hundred pounds of tobacco, and not exceeding one hundred shillings, or eight hundred pounds of tobacco, may be demanded, by petition, to the court of a county, city, or borough. The clerk of the peace shall draw the petition, stating therein how the debt became due, or by breach of what act of General Assembly the penalty was incurred, and shall issue a summons, directed to the sheriff, or other proper officer, commanding him to summon the defendant to appear and answer the petition; and the defendant, being summoned, ten days at least before the return day, and being at the same time served with a copy of the petition, together with a copy of the account, which shall be filed, when the debt shall have arisen by account, the court, if both parties waive the trial by jury,1 shall and may hear and determine the matter in dispute, in a summary way, and give such judgment as shall appear to be just. And any person may, by petition to be served and tried, in like manner, demand and recover goods detained, or the value of them, and damages for the detention, or damages for goods found by the defendant, and converted to his use, where the goods, with the damages, are not of greater value than one hundred shillings, or eight hundred pounds of tobacco. And whosoever shall bring any other action than a petition, if it appear, either of his own shewing in the declaration, or by the verdict of the jury, that he might have brought a petition, by this act, shall be non-suit.
Report description begins Report of the Committee of Revisors Appointed by the General Assembly of Virginia in MDCCLXXVI, Richmond, 1784 description ends , p. 79. MS (ViU); clerk’s copy. Text of the Act as adopted is in Hening, description begins William W. Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia description ends xii, 353–4.
Bill was presented by Madison 31 Oct. 1785, postponed 14 Dec. to next session, brought up again 1 Nov. 1786, amended by the House, and passed 28 Nov. (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , Oct. 1785, 1828 edn., p. 12–15, 92; same, Oct. 1786, p. 16–17, 55, 59, 65, 127). Act as adopted and Bill as proposed by Committee of Revisors agree except as noted below; Act was suspended until 1 July 1787 (Hening, description begins William W. Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia description ends xii, 410–11).
1. The preceding eight words are not in the Act.