Appeal from First Judicial District Court, Ormsby County; Frank P. Langan, Judge.
Mack & Green and Brown & Belford, for Appellants.
Leonard B. Fowler, Attorney-General, and Robert Richards, Deputy Attorney-General, for Respondent.
By the Court, Ducker, J.:
This case is submitted for consideration and decision upon an agreed statement of facts. It appears therefrom that the State Bank and Trust Company was a banking corporation, organized and existing under and
by virtue of the laws of this state, and on the 18th day of May, 1908, was ordered into involuntary liquidation under the provisions of section 10, c. 119, of the banking act of 1907, by the district court of the First judicial district of this state. The appellant, Frank L. Wildes, was at the same time duly appointed by the court as receiver of the property and assets of said corporation for the purpose of winding up and liquidating its business and affairs. He duly qualified, and ever since said 18th day of May, 1908, has been, and still is, actively engaged in the performance of his duties.
On the 6th day of August, 1914, appellant filed in said district court his petition, praying for an order fixing his compensation as such receiver. Thereafter, on the 29th day of January, 1919, the said court in a written decision held that the compensation of the receiver for all services rendered during his receivership is governed by the act of 1915, regulating the compensation of corporations in cases of involuntary dissolution or liquidation, approved March 29, 1915. It reads:
A receiver of a corporation appointed in any proceeding heretofore or hereafter instituted for the involuntary liquidation or dissolution of such corporation and the winding up on its affairs, in addition to his necessary expenses, shall receive as compensation for his services not to exceed two per cent of all moneys or sums received by him, and an additional two per cent of all moneys paid out by him in dividends; provided, however, in case of extraordinary services rendered by the receiver the court may allow him an additional one per cent upon final accounting of all moneys disbursed by him by way of dividends. Any order, judgment, decree, or proceeding allowing any greater or further compensation than that provided in this act to any receiver of any insolvent corporation appointed in a proceeding for its involuntary liquidation or winding up shall be void. Stats. 1915, p. 507.
1. Appellant contends that his compensation as such receiver is not regulated or limited by the provisions of this act. Hence this appeal.
2. It is urged primarily that the statute of 1915 is prospective in its operation and has no retrospective effect. As a general rule, a statute will not be construed to operate upon past transactions, but in futuro only. It is a maxim, which is said to be as ancient as the law itself, that a law ought to be prospective, not retrospective, in its operation. Retrospective legislation is not favored, and except when resorted to in the enactment of curative laws, or such remedial acts as do not create new rights or take away vested ones, is apt to result in injustice. The reason is well expressed in Jones v. Stockgrowers' National Bank, 17 Colo. App. 79, 67 Pac. 177:
Every citizen, says the court, is supposed to know the law, and to govern his conduct, both as to business affairs and otherwise, in accordance with its provisions. It would be a manifest injustice if, after rights had become vested according to existing laws, they could be taken away, in whole or in part, by subsequent legislation.
3. From a consideration of the pronounced policy of the law against retrospective legislation, there has been evolved a strict rule of construction in this regard.
There is always a presumption that statutes are intended to operate prospectively only, and words ought not to have a retrospective operation unless they are so clear, strong, and imperative that no other meaning can be annexed to them, or unless the intention of the legislature cannot be otherwise satisfied. Every reasonable doubt is resolved against a retroactive operation of a statute. If all of the language of a statute can be satisfied by giving it prospective action only, that construction will be given it. United States v. Heth, 3 Cranch, 399, 2 L. Ed. 479; United States v. Alexander, 12 Wall. 177, 20 L. Ed. 381; United States v. Burr, 159 U. S. 78, 15 Sup. Ct. 1002, 40 L. Ed. 82; United States Fidelity Co. v. United States, 209 ...