The History of Common Law in England

The History of Common Law in England

Document details
Category: Legal Studies and Law Essay
Subcategory: Law and Society
Words: 301
Pages: 1

Common law developed as a result of custom and judicial decisions, as distinct from the law laid down by legislative assemblies. The system of laws originated and developed in England, based on court decisions, on the doctrines implicit in those decisions, and on customs and usages, rather than on codified written laws. The inflexibility of the writ system, and the consequent expense - if a writ had a minor drafting error, it would be thrown out, for example, in Pinnel's Case 1602, where Pinnel won as a result of Cole's drafting error, even though Cole was legally in the right. Important developments in equity As a result of the inadequacies of the common law courts, people petitioned the King through his Chancellor leading to the development of a full legal system. As petitions increased the Chancellor set up the Court of Chancery (1474), the conventions of which became equity. The Earl of Oxford's Case (1615) decided that if equity and the common law were in conflict, equity would prevail (codified in the Judicature Act 1873 which merged the equity and common law courts as previously it had been necessary to start parallel actions in separate courts and is currently contained in the Supreme Court Act 1981). In the mid-19th century, the procedure of the Court of Chancery (discovery of documents and injunctions) was made available in the common law courts, as well as giving the power to determine matters of common law, use juries, award damages, and receive oral evidence. Advantages of Equity over common law Equity was important in the development of English law because it resolved some of the shortcomings of the common law, which might otherwise have led to a loss of public confidence in the legal system as many believe the hallmark of a civilised society is a proper legal system....

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