Common law and equity sample answer


A) Explain the History of Common Law and Equity

In the Anglo-Saxon period there were numerous local courts dispensing justice according to local customs. There was no unified system of law operating in England. Following the Normal Conquest in 1066 a new system developed of royal courts which gradually replaced the complex system of local courts.

The Norman Kings organised this system of courts in order to ensure that the King’s control was imposed throughout the country. Officials from the Curia Regis (King’s Court- his close advisers and administrators) were sent to hear cases throughout the country in order to dispense the King’s Justice. By the 12th century, Henry II had established a unified system of courts which dispensed the rules of which dispensed the rules of common law. He divided the country into ‘circuits’ which the King’s judges would regularly travel dispensing justice. Judges used local customary law to determine the outcome of cases but over a period of time as judges returned to Westminster and discussed their cases and the decisions that had been made; they began to select the best laws to write down and apply across the county. The law was applied consistently throughout and became known as Common law.

However, common law had many disadvantages which led to the emergence of equity. In the common law courts only certain types of cases were recognised and the law was very technical and if a mistake was made in the formalities the case would fail. This would mean starting the action afresh with new costs and delays. These civil actions could only be started by the issue of a writ which was a document setting out the grounds for a claim and as new causes of both action occurred (new types of cases) different types of writ were created to cover those situations. Writs were purchased from the Writ Office where there was a register of writs, and if a writ didn’t cover the particular type of claim the clerks would draw up a new one. However, by the 13th century as a result of the Provisions of Oxford 1258 and Statute of…


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