Common Law

The evolution of the common law began when Henry II established a system of English royal courts in 1166. These courts employed juries and were presided over by circuit-riding judges. These common law courts were not the only court system in medieval England. Ecclesiastical courts enforced church law and claimed jurisdiction over any crime involving a member of the clergy. Common law courts also stood in contrast to the chancery courts, or courts of equity. The highly complex and formalized system of writs and remedies developed by the law courts sometimes denied a plaintiff fair and equitable compensation for his injury. In such cases, the aggrieved party had the right to petition the chancery courts for redress.

These courts remained distinct in England until the judicature ...

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