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sequantur curiam regis, sed teneantur in aliquo loco certo.This certain place was established in Westminster hall, the place where the aula regis originally sat, when the king resided in that city, and there it hath ever since continued. And the court being thus rendered fixed and stationary, the judges became so too, and a chief with other justices of the common pleas was thereupon appointed; with jurisdiction to hear and determine all pleas of land, and injuries merely civil, between subject and subject. Which critical establishment of this principal court of *common law, at that particular juncture and that par

[*39 ticular place, gave rise to the inns of court in its neighbourhood; and, thereby collecting together the whole body of the common lawyers, enabled tho law itself to withstand the attacks of the canonists and civilians, who laboured to extirpate and destroy it.(j) This precedent was soon after copied by king Philip the Fair in France, who about the year 1302 fixed the parliament at Paris to abide constantly in that metropolis; which before used to follow the person of the king wherever he went, and in which he himself used frequently to decide the causes that were there depending; but all were then referred to the sole cognizance of the parliament and its learned judges.(k) And thus also in 1495 the emperor Maximilian I. fixed the imperial chamber (which before always travelled with the court and household) to be constantly held at Worms, from whence it was afterwards translated to Spires.(?)

The aula regia being thus stripped of so considerable a branch of its jurisdiction, and the power of the chief justiciar being also considerably curbed by many articles in the great charter, the authority of both began to decline apace under the long and troublesome reign of king Henry III. And, in further pursuance of this example, the other several officers of the chief justiciar were, under Edward the First, (who new-modelled the whole frame of our judicial polity,) subdivided and broken into distinct courts of judicature. A court of chivalry was erected, over which the constable and mareschal presided ; as did the steward of the household over another, constituted to regulate the king's domestic servants. The high steward, with the barons of parliament, formed an august tribunal for the trial of delinquent peers; and the barons reserved to themselves in parliament the right of reviewing the sentences of other courts in the last resort. The distribution of common justice between man and man was thrown into so provident an order, that the great judicial officers were *made to form a check upon each other: the court of chancery issuing

[*40 all original writs under the great seal to the other courts; the common pleas being allowed to determine all causes between private subjects; the exche. quer managing the king's revenue; and the court of king's bench retaining all the jurisdiction which was not cantoned out to other courts, and particularly the superintendence of all the rest by way of appeal; and the sole cognizanco of pleas of the crown or criminal causes. For pleas or suits are regularly divided into two sorts : pleas of the crown, which comprehend all crimes and misdemeanours, wherein the king (on behalf of the public) is the plaintiff; and common pleas, which include all civil actions depending between subject and subject. The former of these were the proper object of the jurisdiction of the court of king's bench; the latter of the court of common pleas, which is a court of record, and is styled by Sir Edward Coke(m) the lock and key of the common law ; for herein only can real actions, that is, actions which concern the right of freehold or the realty, be originally brought: and all other, or personal, pleas between man and man, are likewise here determined; though in most of them the king's bench has also a concurrent authority? The judges of this court are at present(n) four in number, one chief and threo

See book i, introd. ? 1.
Mod. Un. Hist. xxiii. 396.

(n) King James I. during the greater part of his reign ap () Ibid. xxix. 46. * The jurisdiction of each court is so well established that at this day the court of King's Bench cannot be authorized to determine a mere real action, so neither can the court of Common Pleas to inquire of felony or treason. Hawk. b. 2, ch. 1, s. 4, Bac. Abr. Courts, A. The King's Bench, however, tries titles to land by the action of ejectment.-CHITTY.


(m) 4 Inst. 99

pointed five judges in the courts of King's Bench and Com


puisnè justices, created by the king's letters-patent, who sit every day in the four terms to hear and determine all matters of law arising in civil causes, whether real, personal, or mixed and compounded of both. These it takes cognizance of, as well originally as upon removal from the inferior courts before mentioned. But a writ of error, in the nature of an appeal, lies from this court into the court of king's bench.8 *41]

*VI. The court of king's bench (so called because the king used for.

merly to sit there in person,(0) the style of the court still being coram ipso rege)" is the supreme court of common law in the kingdom; consisting of a chief justice and three puisnè justices, who are by their office the sovereign conservators of the peace and supreme coroners of the land. Yet, though the king himself used to sit in this court, and still is supposed so to do, he did not, neither by law is he empowered(p) to, determine any cause or motion, but by the mouth of his judges, to whom he hath committed his whole judicial authority (9)

This court, which (as we have said) is the remnant of the aula regia, is not, nor can be, from the very nature and constitution of it, fixed to any certain place, but may follow the king's person wherever he goes: for which reason all process issuing out of this court in the king's name is returnable “ubicunque fuerimus in Anglia.It hath indeed, for some centuries past, usually sat at Westminster, being an antient palace of the crown; but might remove with the king to York or Exeter, if he thought proper to command it. And we find that, after Edward I. had conquered Scotland, it actually sat at Roxburgh.(r) And this movable quality, as well as its dignity and power, are fully expressed by Bracton when he says that the justices of this court are “capitales, generales, perpetui, et majores ; a latere regis residentes, qui omnium aliorum corrigere tenentur injurias et errores.(8) And it is moreover especially provided in the articuli super cartas,(t) that the king's chancellor, and the justices of his bench, shall follow him, so that he may have at all times near unto him some that be learned in the laws. mon Pleas, for the benefit of a casting voice in case of a After its dissolution king Edward I. frequently sat in the difference in opinion, and that the circuits might at all times court of King's Bench, see the records cited in 2 Burr. 851;) be fully supplied with judges of the superior courts. And in subsequent reigns, upon the permanent indisposition of a person, but was informed by his judges that he could at judge, a fifth hath been sometimes appointed. Sir T. Raym. deliver an opinion.

M. 20. 21 Edw. I. Halo, Hist. C. L. 200. () See book i. ch. 7. The king used to decide causes in ( L. 3, c. 10. person in the aula regia. ." In curia domini regis ipse in (*) 28 Edw. I. c. 5. propria per: 011 jura dicernit.Diul. de Scucch. l. 1, 4.

The court now consists of five judges, one chief and four puisne justices. Until the statute 11 Geo. IV. and i W. IV. c. 70, an appeal lay from the judgment of this court to the court of King's Bench; but now the appeal for error in law is-to the justices of the court of Queen's Bench and barons of the exchequer, in the exchequer-chamber, from whose judgment an appeal lies only to the house of lords.-STEWART.

9 This court is called the Queen's Bench in the reign of a queen; and during the protectorate of Cromwell it was styled the upper bench.-CaristiaN.

10 Lord Mansfield, in 2 Burr. 851, does not mean to say, nor do the records there cited warrant the conclusion, that Edward I. actually sat in the King's Bench. Dr: Henry, in bis very accurate History of Great Britain, informs us that he has found no instance of any of our kings sitting in the court of justice before Edward IV. “And Edward IV.," he says, “ in the second year of his reign, sat three days together during Michaelmas Term in the court of King's Bench; but it is not said that he interfered in the business of the court; and, as he was then a very young man, it is probable that it was bis intention to learn in what manner justice was administered, rather than to act the part of a judge." 5 vol. 282, 4to edit. Lord Coke says that the words in magna carta, (c. 29,) nec super eum ibimus nec super eum mittemus nisi, &c., signify that we shall not sit in judgment ourselves, nor send our commissioners or judges to try him. 2 Inst. 46. But that this is an erroneous construction of these words appears from a charter granted by king John in the sixteenth year of his reign, which is thus expressed :-Nec super eos per vim vel per arma ibimus nisi per legem reyni nostri vel per judicium parium suorum. See Introd, to Bl. Mag. Ch. p. 13. Statutes and charters in pari materiâ must be construed by a reference to each other; and in the more ancient charter the meaning is clear that the king will not proceed with violence against his subjects unless justified by the law of his kingdom or by A judgment of their peers.-Christian.

and in later times James I. is said to have sit there is


() 4 Inst. 73.

(9) 4 Inst. 71.



*The jurisdiction of this court is very high and transcendent. It keeps all inferior jurisdictions within the bounds of their authority, and may

[*12 either remove their proceedings to be determined here, or prohibit their progress below. It superintends all civil corporations in the kingdom. It commands magistrates and others to do what their duty requires, in every case where there is no other specific remedy. It protects the liberty of the subject, by speedy and summary interposition. It takes cognizance both of criminal and civil causes : the former in what is called the crown side, or crown office; the latter in the plea side of the court. The jurisdiction of the crown side is not our present business to consider: that will be more properly discussed in the ensuing book. But on the plea side, or civil branch, it hath an original jurisdiction and cognizance of all actions of trespass or other injury alleged to be committed vi et armis; of actions for forgery of deeds; maintenance, conspiracy, deceit, and actions on the case which allege any falsity or fraud; all of which savour of a criminal nature, although the action is brought for a civil remedy; and make the defendant liable in strictness to pay a fine to the king, as well as damages to the injured party.(u) The same doctrine is also now extended to all actions on the case whatsoever :(w) but no action of debt or detinue, or other mere civil action, can by the common law be prosecuted by any subject in this court by original writ out of chancery ;(X)" though an action of debt given by statute may be brought in the king's bench as well as in the common pleas.(y) And yet this court might always have held plea of any civil action, (other than actions real,) provided the defendant was an officer of the court; or in the custody of the marshal, or prison-keeper, of this court, for a breach of the peace or any other offence (3) And, in process of time, it began by a fiction to hold plea of all personal actions whatsoever, and has continued to do so for ages :(a) it being surmised that the defendant is arrested for "a supposed trespass, which he never has in reality committed; and, being thus in the custody of the marshal of the court, the plaintiff is at liberty to proceed against him for any other personal injury: which surmise, of being in the marshal's custody, the defendant is not at liberty to dispute (6) And these fictions of law, though at first they may startle the student, he will find pop further consideration to be highly beneficial and useful; especially as this maxim is ever invariably observed, that no fiction shall extend to work an injury; its proper operation being to prevent a mischief, or remedy an inconvenience, that might result from the general rule of law.c) So true it is, that in fictione juris semper subsistit æquitas.(dIn the present case, it gives the suitor his choice of more than one tribunal before which he may institute bis and prevents the circuity and delay of justice, by allowing that suit to be originally, and in the first instance, commenced in this court, which, after a determination in another, might ultimately be brought before it on a writ of erior.12

For this court is likewise a court of appeal, into which may be removed by writ of error all determinations of the court of common pleas, and of all in. ferior courts of record in England; and to which a writ of error lies also from the court of king's bench in Ireland. Yet even this so high and honourable court is not the dernier resort of the subject; for, if he be not satisfied with any determination here, he may remove it by writ of error into the house of lords, (*) Finch, L. 198. 2 Inst. 23. Dyversité de courtes c. bank (9) Thns too in the civil, law; contra fictionem non

admittitur probatio : quid enim efficeret probatio veritatis, (*)P. N. B. 86, 92. 1 Lilly, Pract. Reg. 503.

ubi fictis adversus veritatem fingit. Nam fictio nihil aliud (5) 4 Inst. 76. Trye's Jus Filizar. 101.

est, quam legis adversus veritatem in re possibili ex justa causa dispositio. Gothofred. in Ff. 1. 22, t. 3.

() 3 Rep. 30. 2 Roll. Rep. 502. (9) Ibid. 72.

(d) 11 Rep. 51. Co. Litt. 150.




(3) Carth. 234.

4 lnst. 71.

" This is not the present practice. R. T. Hardw. 317. Tidd's Prac. 8 ed. 97.—Chitty.'

12 But, as there is no reason for doing that indirectly which may be done directly, it was considered expedient to abolish this among other legal fictions, (2 W. IV. c. 39,) and the mode of commencing an action has for some time been and is now, uniform in all the superior courts.-STEWART.



or the court of exchequer chamber, as the case may happen, according to the nature of the suit and the manner in which it has been prosecuted.13

VII. The court of exchequer is inferior in rank not only to the court of king's bench, but to the common pleas also: but I have chosen to consider it in this order on account of its double capacity as a court of law and a court of equity *41]

*also. It is a very antient court of record, set up by William the Con

querer,(e) as a part of the aula regia, (f) though regulated and reduced to its present order by king Edward I.,(9) and intended principally to order the revenues of the crown, and to recover the king's debts and duties.(h) It is called the exchequer, scaccharium, from the checked cloth, resembling a chessboard, which covers the table there, and on which, when certain of the king's accounts are made up, the sums are marked and scored with counters. It consists of two divisions: the receipt of the exchequer, which manages the royal revenue, and with which these commentaries have no concern; and the court or judicial part of it, which is again subdivided into a court of equity and a court of common law. 14

The court of equity is held in the exchequer chamber before the lord treasurer, the chancellor of the exchequer, the chief baron, and three puisnè ones. These Mr. Selden conjectures(i) to have been antiently made out of such as were barons of the kingdom, or parliamentary barons; and thence to have derived their name; which conjecture receives great strength from Bracton's explanation of magna carta, c. 14, which directs that the earls and barons be amerced by their peers; that is, says he, by the barons of the exchequer.(k) The primary and original business of this court is to call the king's debtors to account, by bill filed by the attorney-general; and to recover any lands, teneunents, or hereditaments, any goods, chattels, or other profits or benefits, belonging to the crown. So that by their original constitution the jurisdiction of the court of common pleas, king's bench, and exchequer was entirely separate and distinct: the common pleas being intended to decide all controversies between subject and subject; the king's bench to correct all crimes and Inisdemeanours that amount to a breach of the peace, the king being then plainliff, as such offences are in open derogation of the jura regalia of his crown; *45]

and the exchequer to adjust *and recover his revenue, wherein the king

also is plaintiff, as the withholding and non-payment thereof is an injury to bis jura fiscalia. But, as by a fiction almost all sorts of civil actions are now allowed to be brought in the king's bench, in like manner by another fiction all kinds of personal suits may be prosecuted in the court of exchequer. For as ( Lamb. Archeim. 24.

(*) 4 Inst. 103–116.

(Tit. Hon. 2, 5, 16. () Spelm. Guil. I. in cod. leg. vet. apud Wilkins.

(*) L. 3, tr. 2, c. 1, 4 3. 13 The appeal from the King's or Queen's Bench is now in all cases to the justices of the Common Pleas and barons of the exchequer, in the exchequer-chamber, from whose judgment an appeal lies to the house of lords.-STEWART.

14 Though this court is inferior in rank as well to the court of Common Pleas as the King's Bench, and though, in general, a subject has a right to resort to either of the superior courts for the redress of a civil injury, yet this court, having an original, and in many cases an exclusive, jurisdiction in fiscal matters, will not permit questions, in the decision of which the king's revenue or his officers are interested, to be discussed before any other tribunal; and therefore, if an action of trespass against a revenue-officer for his conduct in the execution of his office be brought in the court of Common Pleas or King's Bench, it may be removed into the

office of pleas of this court of exchequer. 1 Anstr. 205. Hardr. 176. Parker, 143. 1 Price, 206. 8 Price, 584. Manning's Exchequer Prac. 161, 164, n. On such occasions the court interposes on motion, by ordering the proceeding to be removed into the office of pleas, which order operates by way of injunction. The usual order in cases of this nature is that the action be removed out of the King's Bench or Common Pleas, or other court in which it is depending, into the office of pleas, and that it shall be there in the same forwardness as in the court out of which the action is removed. This order, however, does not operate as a certiorari to remove the proceedings, but as a personal order on the party to stay them there, and, of course, calls on the defendant in the action to appear, accept a declaration, and put the plaintiff in the same state of forwardness in the office of pleas as he was in the other rourt. Per Eyre, Ch. B. 1 Anstr. 205, in notes.-Cuitty.

Madox Hist. Exch. 109.

all the officers and ministers of this court have, like those of other superior courts, the privilege of suing and being sued only in their own court; so also the king's debtors and farmers, and all accomptants of the exchequer, are privileged to sue and implead all manner of persons in the same court of equity that they themselves are called into. They have likewise privilege to sue and implead one another, or any stranger, in the same kind of common-law actions (where the personalty only is concerned) as are prosecuted in the court of com. mon pleas.

This gives original to the common-law part of their jurisdiction, which was established merely for the benefit of the king's accomptants, and is exercised by the barons only of the exchequer, and not the treasurer or chancellor. The writ upon which all proceedings here are grounded is called a quo minus : in which the plaintiff suggests that he is the king's farmer or debtor, and that the defendant hath done him the injury or damage complained of; quo minus sufficiens existit, by which he is less able to pay the king his debt or rent. And these suits are expressly directed, by what is called the statute of Rutland,(?) to be confined to such matters only as specially concern the king or his ministers of the exchequer. And by the articuli super cartas,(m) it is enacted, that no common pleas be thenceforth holden in the exchequer contrary to the form of the great charter. But now, by the suggestion of privilege, any person may be admitted to sue in the exchequer as well as the king's accomptant. The surmise, of being debtor to the king, is therefore become matter of form and mere words of course, and the court is open to all the nation equally.15 The same holds with regard to the equity side of the court: for there any person may file *a bill against another upon a bare suggestion that he is the king's accomptant; but whether he is so, or not, is never controverted. In this

[*46 court on the equity side, the clergy have long used to exhibit their bills for the non-payment of tithes; in which case the surmise of being the king's debtor is no fiction, they being bound to pay him their first-fruits and annual tenths. But the chancery has of late years obtained a large share in this business.

An appeal from the equity side of this court lies immediately to the house of peers; but from the common-law side, in pursuance of the statute 31 Edw. II] c. 12, a writ of error must be first brought into the court of exchequer cham ber. And from the determination there had, there lies, in the dernier resort, a writ of error to the house of lords. 16

VIII. The high court of chancery is the only remaining, and in matters of civil property by much the most important of any, of the king's superior and original courts of justice. It has its name of chancery, cancellaria, from the judge who presides here, the lord chancellor, or cancellarius; who, Sir Edward Coke tells us, is so termed a cancellando, from cancelling the king's letters patent when granted contrary to law, which is the highest point of his juris. diction.(n)" But the office and name of chancellor (however derived) was (1) 10 Edw. I. c. 11. (m) 28 Edw. I. c. 4.

(*) 4 Inst. 88.

15 This fiction has been for some time abolished. 2 W. IV. c. 39.-STEWART.

18 By the 31 Edward III. c. 12, this court of appeal is to consist of the chancellor and treasurer, and such justices and sage persons as they shall think fit. It is altered by 31 Eliz, c. 1, 16 Car. II. c. 2, 20 Car. II. c. 4, from which it appears that the court may consist of both the chief justices, or one of them, or of the chancellor, provided the chancellor is present when the judgment is given. See the proceedings in the case of Johnstone vs. Sutton in this court. 1 T. R. 493.-Chitty.

But by statute 5 Vict. c. 5 its jurisdiction as a court of equity was transferred to the court of chancery; and it is now only a court of law and revenue, with five judges, -a chief and four puisné barons,-like the courts of Queen's Bench and Common Pleas. From the judgment of this court an appeal lies to the justices of the Queen's Bench and Common Pleas, sitting as the court of exchequer chamber; and from that court an appeal lies to the house of lords.-KERR.

According to the opinion of several learned authors, (as Mr Cambden, in his Britannia, and Dr. Cowell, in his Interpreter, have observed.) the chancery had its name originally from certain bars laid one over another crosswise, like a lattice, wherewith it was environed to keep off the press of the people, and not to hinder the view of those


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