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Cognovit

action, plea and damages

COGNO'VIT is a plea, in an action at law, whereby the defendant acknowledges or confesses the justice of the plaintiff's demand against him (cognovit actionenz). By this plea a trial is avoided and judg ment is entered up for the plaintiff. But where the action is for damages, this 1udgment is not final, as the amount of damages remains to be assessed by a jury, under a writ of inquiry, which is exe cuted by the sheriff, by the agency of his under-sheriff. When the jury have as sessed the damages, the sheriff returns the inquisition, which is entered upon the roll in the form of a postea, and the judg ment is then complete, the defendant's plea having already confessed the cause of action, and the damages having been as sessed by a jury. If the action be for the recovery of a specific amount, as in an action of debt, the judgment entered up upon a plea of cognovit aMionent is con clusive against the defendant, as it con fesses the entire declaration. On this account it is a common practice for a debtor to strengthen the security of his creditor by executing a warrant of attor ney to an attorney named by the creditor, authorising him to confess a judgment by a plea of cognovit in an action of debt to be brought by the creditor against the debtor fir the specific sum due to him.

But in order to prevent fraud, it is pro vided by 1 & 2 Vict. c. 110, 9, 10, that such warrant of attorney or cognovit is of no force unless there be present an attor ney of one of the superior courts, on be half of the party who gives it, expressly named by him, and attending at his re quest, to inform him of the effect of the instrument before he executes it, and who must subscribe as a witness to the execution, and declare himself to be the attorney for the party. In order to make this process effectual as against the as signees of the debtor, if he should become bankrupt or insolvent, warrants of attor ney and cognovits must be filed in the Court of Queen's Bench within twenty-one days after execution, or judgment must be signed or execution issued thereon within the same period. (3 Geo. IV. c.

39; 6 Geo. IV. c. 16, 108; 1 & 2 Viet. c. 110, 60, 61 ; 6 & 7 Vict. C. 66. Har rison's Digest of Reported Cases, titles "Bail," "Warrant of Attorney;' Ste phen's Comm. vol. iii. p. 634.)