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Exchequer of pleas

From Academic Kids

The Exchequer of Pleas or Exchequer was one of the three common-law courts of Medieval and Early Modern England. The term Exchequer is used where there is no possibility of confusion with the government department of the Exchequer of which the Exchequer of Pleas formed a part.

By 1190 the Exchequer exercised a judicial role, with judges, known as Barons. At first the business consisted of two parts: actions by the Crown itself, in respect of monies owed to it; and actions by private citizens who had the right to sue in the Exchequer.

It seems that the judicial business of the Exchequer grew until, by 1290, it had become a regular common law court on a par with the courts of the King's Bench and the Common Pleas. A reaction set in whereby Magna Carta was interpreted as preventing common pleas being heard other than in the Court of the Common Pleas.

As a result most private business could only be brought in the Exchequer by use of a legal fiction. At first parties claimed to be servants of Exchequer officials, but eventually the Writ of Quominus became the normal way of bringing an action in the Exchequer. Quominus operating in a similar manner to the Bill of Middlesex in the King's Bench.

By the late seventeenth century the Exchequer had become the third court for hearing Common Pleas, after the Common Pleas and King's Bench.

The court was absorbed into the new High Court by the Judicature Act 1873 and became the Exchequer Division, which in turn was abolished on 16th December 1880, becoming part of the Queen's Bench Division.

See also


References

  • Baker, J. H. An Introduction to English Legal History. Butterworths 1990. ISBN 0-406-53101-3
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