1.1 Common Law

Common Law

  • Created by: Jake
  • Created on: 20-05-12 19:34

Historical Development of Common Law

William found England with no single system of law
Invasion in 1066 was the mark of the beggining of the development of the law as we know it

Feudal System - Granted land to those who supprted him

  • William made himself available to any landholder who had a dispute or a problem
  • The idea of directly applying to the King became known as the King's Justice
  • In the beggining the King's Justice was administered by the Curiea Regis (King's Court)
  • The Curia Regis would apply a system of rules which applied to the whole country and became known as Common Law

Various central Courts began to develop - (King's Courts) judges set up the system of Judicial Precedent

By 1250 Common Law had developed 

1 of 5

What is Common Law?

Common Law is law developed by Judges through desicions of courts and similar tribunals, rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch system


2 of 5

Problems with Common Law

  • By the end of the 13th century no new writs were being issued so many people couldn’t even start their case off so were unable to receive justice
  • The only remedy offered by common law was damages which, in many cases, was inappropriate
3 of 5

The Development of Equity

Equity means fairness

  • Due to the problems with the common law people were unable to get justice so petitioned the King for help
  • There were too many petitions for the King to deal with so he passed them on to the Chancellor
  • Chancellor decided cases based on his own moral conscience (which obviously changed every time there was a change of Chancellor – led to the saying ‘equity varies with the length of the Chancellor’s foot’)
  • Eventually the Court of Chancery developed
  • New remedies were developed: (activity 8)
    • Injunctions
    • Specific performance
    • Rescission (Leaf –v- International Galleries)
    • Rectification (High Trees House case)
  • Equitable remedies are discretionary – they will only be awarded if parties comply with the maxims (activity 7)
  • Maxims are rules developed by equity to ensure that parties act fairly, eg he who comes to equity must come with clean hands – D&C Builders –v- Rees


4 of 5

Conflict between Common Law and Equity

  • These were two different systems of law producing very different results to the same case
  • The conflict was resolve in the Earl of Oxford’s Case 1615
  • The King rules that where common law and equity were in conflict equity will prevail
  • If this had not been decided in this way, equity would have been worthless – one system of law had to take precedence and it had to be equity so that people could get justice

    Equity is now a full system of law 

    Equity today - 

    • It continues to develop new remedies where they are genuinely and justly deserved
    • New developments include Anton Pillar Orders, equitable estoppel, Mareva injunctions and the Matrimonial Homes Act 1967
    • Mortgages and Trusts also work on equitable principles
5 of 5




This is so helpful thank you, my exam is tomorrow so just brushing up :D x

Farah Khan


Thank you very much!

Similar Law resources:

See all Law resources »