Common Law and Equity in USA

William I was born in 1027 in Chateau Falaise in Falaise Normandy, France He was crowned Duke of Normandy at the age of 7. He was the first Norman King of England. When the Edward the Confessor passed away, there were three claimants-William, Harold Godwinson and Harald Hardrada. Edward had promised William the throne in London when he visited him there in 1052 but by vote of Witnagemot along with Edward's will Harold Godwinson was crowned King by Archbishop Aldred in January 1066. William was not happy so he submitted a claim to the English throne to Pope Alexander II, who sent him a consecrated banner in support.

William then organised a council of war at Lillebone and in January began to assemble an army in Normandy. He defeated Harold's army on 25th September 1066 and arrived in England on 28th September 1066. When William I invaded England in 1066, he found out that in England there was no legal system or what is now called 'English law'. The law around the country was different with every area having their own laws. The legal system consisted of local courts known as the borough, shire and hundred courts. He did not completely destroy the laws he found around the country. Instead he preserved them.

Eventually they were used as a foundation for the common law. He started off by introducing what became known as the feudal system which he used to grant areas of land to those who are willing to help him and grant him services. In this way he slowly took over the country. He personally made himself available to any land holder who had a problem. This idea was known as the King's Justice and it was available to individuals, regardless of where they lived. The King's Justice was managed by a body of advisers to the King. They implemented a set of rules which applied to the whole country; this became known as common law.

Other courts began to apply the same law. Whenever a new problem came to court, the judges followed a decision which has been made in the past. This made the law more predictable and reliable. This system is now known as Judicial Precedent. Even though Judicial Precedent had became a popular system, it was very expensive and only those who could afford it used it. The Royal Courts also used the system, they had great authority and could settle problems very quickly which was why the Royal Courts were used much more compared to local courts which take very long to settle disputes.

All this became known as common law. Look at two problems with William's law. William's law was making himself available to any landholder who had a dispute or problem which is known as the King's Justice. One problem with William's law was it was rigid, which meant that Judges have to follow previous decisions even if they do not particularly agree with the decision. This could be unfair since the decision could lead the defendant to a consequence he or she did not deserve. It could also mean that the nothing can change the judge's decision until a higher court overrules it.

Another problem with the law was the illogical distinctions, since previous decisions have to be followed in a similar case, if a case is similar but has some differences the judge will have to identify them in minutes, and then will have to look for a similar case to come up with a final decision. Explain how equity developed and how it differed from the common law. Equity is the law developed by the King's Chancellor because many people were not happy about the law. This dissatisfaction made them to start complaining to the King.

There was too many for the King to deal with so the King gave the responsibility to deal with them to the Chancellor. Whenever common law could not offer a solution the Chancellor would then make a decision on what he thought was fair. Unlike the common law system the Chancellor could make his decision instantly. Critics of the Chancellors approach argued that the instant decisions of the Chancellor could be unfair because they lacked uncertainty and it depended too much on his personal opinion. But over the years he built up a large number of rules which made things fair which is now called equity.

In common law had there were certain rules to follow whereas in equity could solve the problems common law had. The chancellor took his causes in a place called the Court of Chancery. After equity in place for a while, the lawyers that still used the common law rules were arguing back disagreeing with equity while the chancery lawyers were arguing back disagreeing with common law. The common lawyers said equity lacked a repetitive decision so anything could happen while the chancery lawyers said that common law is to inflexible and everything is set in stone.

This was eventually settled in The Earl of Oxford's Case (1615). Consider the Earl of Oxford's case and its importance The Earl of Oxford' case is a case where judgement of Chief Justice Coke was allegedly obtained by fraud. The Chancellor issued a common injunction out of the Chancery stopping the enforcement of the common law order. The two courts became locked in a stalemate; the matter was finally referred to the Attorney-General, Sir Francis Bacon. Sir Francis by authority of King James I, upheld the use of the common injunction and came to a conclusion of, when equity and common law collided, equity will prevail.

The Earl of Oxford' case was a very important because it made the two systems collide and whichever system prevailed would mean it was superior to it. The two leaders of the new system could not make a decision between them, so they left the decision to the King. In the end the King choose equity, so this means whenever the two systems clash, equity will always be victorious. Explain the effect of the Judicature Acts 1873-1875 The Judicature Acts 1873-1875 established the basis of the court structure we have today Judicature Acts combined the two laws together so it meant all courts can choose to use both laws if they wish to.

They are not separate courts anymore. The Act in 1873 was an Act of Parliament by the Parliament of the UK. It recognized the English court system to establish the High Court and Court of Appeal; it also destroyed the judicial functions for the High of Lords. On the other hand the Gladstone Liberal government fell in 1874 before its entry into force and the succeeding Disraeli Tory government suspended the entry into the force of Act which meant the Acts were passed through 1874 and 1875. The judges seemed dissatisfied with the Acts so around 1883 they issued a fresh set of consolidated rules with some improvements.