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The first statute upon the subject was chapter 330 of the laws of 1830, creating liens in favor of laborers for work done upon any building in the city of New York, which was, by chapter 120 of 1832, extended to materials furnished for the same purpose. Chapter 224 of 1844 created a lien in favor of a contractor or subcontractor, but was still confined to New York city.
In the same year a similar act was passed (chapter 305) applicable to all cities and villages of the state.
In 1846 the Richmond county act was passed (chapter 184); in 1851 the Westchester, Ulster and Putnam counties act (chapter 169). In 1852 the latter act was repealed and a new law passed for the counties of Westchester, Dutchess, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, Chemung and part of Orange (chapter 384). The act of 1852 was repealed by chapter 402 of 1854, which provided a new law for the counties of Westchester, Oneida, Cortland, Broome, Putnam, Rockland, Orleans, Niagara, Livingston, Otsego, Lewis, Orange and Dutchess, which was amended by chapter 558 of 1869, and extended to the whole State, except Erie, Kings, Queens, New York and Onondaga counties. Rensselaer was also excepted by chapter 194 of 1870.
In 1857 a special act was passed for Saratoga Springs.
In 1862 the Kings and Queens counties act became a law chapter 478). In 1863 there was a new act for New York city, (chapter 500); in 1864 the Onondaga county act (chapter 366), and in 1865 the Rensselaer county act (chapter 778). Chapter 489 of 1873 materially amended the acts of 1854 and 1869, and repealed all other acts relating to the counties to which it was made applicable.
Chapter 551 of 1874 extended the act of 1873 to the county of Erie, except the city of Buffalo.
Chapter 379 of 1875 defined and limited the liens of contractors and others upon real estate in the city and county of New York, and provided for the enforcement of such liens, and was practically a new act for the city of New York, but did not expressly repeal any previous acts.
In 1880 the Buffalo city act was passed (chapter 143), and in the same year a new cities act (chapter 486).
In 1882 the New York city consolidation act was passed, chap. ter 23 of which regulated the subject of mechanics' liens in the city of New York, and was amended by chapter 276 of the laws of 1883. Chapter 342 of 1885 was the culmination of legislative effort in this direction. All prior acts were repealed except chapter 529 of 1870, relating to liens upon railroad bridges; chapter 669 of 1872, relating to wharves, piers, bulkheads and bridges; chapter 329 of 1875, relating to railroad employes; chapter 315 of 1878, relating to public works in cities, and chapter 440 of 1880, relating to oil wells. It was followed by chapter 543 of 1888, relating to monuments and gravestones.
Title 4 of the following proposed amendment to chapter 23 of the civil code, if adopted, will supersede all these statutes. It has been found practicable to comprise in one brief act all the law essential to the protection and enforcement of liens of mechanics and material men.
In order to avoid occasion for further special legislation upon the subject, as new classes of cases might arise from time to time in which the right to a lien should be given, the proposed law has been made so general in its scope as to include every case where labor is performed or material furnished for the permanent improvement of real property.
The proper application of the principle which underlies all legislation of this character requires that every person, who, at the request of the owner of such property, contributes by his labor or his goods to the enhancement of its value, should be deemed to have acquired an interest therein to the extent of the value of such work or materials, and in case of default in payment therefor, should have a remedy which will secure payment out of the proceeds of the property itself.
The procedure for the enforcement of a mechanic's lien in a court of record has been made to conform, so far as is practicable, to the provisions of the code relating to the foreclosure of mortgages by action, and in a court not of record, it has been assimilated to the practice prescribed for the prosecution of civil actions in a justice's court. In either class of cases there has been made no substantial change in the practice which prevails under the present law.
The title has been divided into two articles, the first devoted to mechanics' liens and the second to the subject of liens upon vessels. The law in respect to liens upon vessels has not been materially changed.
THE RECEIVERS LAW. In title 5 of the following draft it is proposed to embody all the law relating to the appointment and the proceedings of receivers. In the present statutes there is no well-defined or well-regulated system of practice upon the subject, and it is frequently difficult to determine the correct procedure to be adopted in such cases. The code of civil procedure, as a general rule, provido : tri tho cases in which a receiver may be appointed, but its provisions are found under many different heads, and do not include all the cases in which the appointment may be made, especially where there has been legislation subsequent to its adoption, as in the case of corporations annulled or dissolved by legislative enactment, which are provided for in chapter 310 of the laws of 1886.
The laws regulating the proceedings of receivers subsequent to their appointment, are at present mainly comprised in the eighth edition of the revised statutes, between pages 2672 and 2684; but with respect to receivers appointed upon the voluntary dissolution of corporations, reference must also be had to the provisions of the revised statutes relating to trustees of insolvent debtors, found at pages 2521 to 2536.
A glance at the present condition of these laws is sufficient to demonstrate their fragmentary and incomplete character.
In the following proposed title, chapter 23 of the code, under two articles containing in all but forty sections, the commission have grouped all the provisions of law relating to the appointment and proceedings of receivers, which are deemed essential for such proceedings.
Under the first article, in appropriate subdivisious, there have been enumerated all the cases in which a receiver can be appointed and the method of his appointment with a general statement of his powers and duties.
The second article treats exclusively of receivers of insolvent corporations. The scheme adopted has for its main object the speedy and economical administration of the assets of these corporations. It aims to secure to the creditors and stockholders the largest and best results in the shortest time practicable.
The receiver is made in fact what he is in theory, a judicial officer, and the effort has been made to divest him of all partisan
ship in the administration of the trust. It is required that claims against the corporation shall be promptly presented. The receiver is authorized to take proofs if he has doubts in regard to the justice or validity of any claim, so that if it should appear that the claim was, in fact, well founded, he may allow it and thus avoid a long and expensive litigation. Delays in the presentation and adjustment of accounts of receivers and in the distribution of the assets among the parties entitled to them have been guarded against so far as it seemed practicable to do so. If the practice proposed should be adopted and faithfully applied and enforced, it would seem that the great waste of the assets of insolvent corporations, which has so often occurred heretofore in winding up. their affairs would be avoided.
A change has also been made in respect to the method of the appointment of receivers in such cases. It is provided that a receiver of a banking corporation shall not be appointed without the written recommendation of the superintendent of banks; or of an insurance corporation, without a like recommendation of the superintendent of insurance, or of any other corporation without the recommendation of the attorney-general.
As these state officers are respectively charged with responsibility for the management of the affairs of these corporations, there is an evident propriety in the change proposed. At present their responsibility for the administration of a receivership is purely theoretical. They have no voice in the appointment of the receiver and are powerless to supervise the execution of his trust.
THE DRAINAGE LAW. .
An Act to amend chapter 23 of the code of civil procedure.
Chapter 23 of the code of civil procedure is amended by adding thereto three titles, to be designated as titles 3, 4 and 5, and to read respectively as follows:
THE DRAINAGE LAW.
and state engineer must be obtained.
sioners; how paid.