Common Law Courts 11th Century to 17th Century

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Introduction The Court of Common Pleas, Exchequer of Pleas and the Court of King's Bench were common law courts that arose from the curia regis (King's Court) of England in the Middle Ages. From the beginning of their independent operation until their dissolution, the jurisdictions of these courts changed. This essay will discuss the origin of these courts, the development of their jurisdiction, the relationship between these courts in the 17th century and how this relationship was more beneficial to the public compared to the point at which the courts were founded. Development of the Court of Common Pleas up to the Late 17th Century The origin of the Court of Common Pleas is not known with a great deal of certainty, but instead is the subject of academic discussion which has given rise to different theories about the court's creation. The curia regis or the King's Court was composed of advisers and courtiers who followed the king in his travels to help conduct the business of the state. During his reign Henry II assigned members of his court to dispense the king's justice in disputes where the parties were individuals.[1] This is accepted to be the beginning of the development of the Court of Common Pleas but after this point there are different theories of how the court became independent of the king's court. A chronicler in 1178 recorded that Henry II decreed: "five should hear all complaints of the kingdom and should do right and should not depart from the king's court...".[2] Differing interpretations of this decree are the basis for the various theories of the court's foundation. One of the original interpretations was that this decree created the King's Court and the Court of Common Pleas came into existence after the signing of the Magna Carta.[3] However, in the 20th century, legal historians had greater access to historical documents were able to come
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