EXCHEQUER COURT is a superior court of record established by William the Conqueror as part of the Aula Regis, and reduced to its present order by Ed ward I.
It is the lowest in rank of the four great courts of law which sit at Westminster Hall, although in ancient times one of the first in importance, as all causes relating to the rights of the crown were there, heard and determined, and the revenue of the crown were supposed to be received there.
The Latinized form of the word Ex chequer is Scaccarium. Camden says it was so called from the covering of the table at which the barons sat being party coloured or chequered, and on which, when certain of the king's accounts were made up, the sums were marked and scored with counters.
The judges of the court of exchequer are the chancellor of the exchequer for the time being [CHANCELLOR, p. 482], the chief baron, and four other barons, who are created by letters patent, and are so called from their having been formerly chosen from such as were barons of the kingdom, or parliamentary barons (Sel den's Titles of Honour).
The Court of Exchequer was formerly held in the king's palace. Its treasury was the great deposit of records from the other courts ; writs of summons to assemble the parliaments were issued by its officers ; and its acts and decrees, as they related almost entirely to matters connected with the king's revenue, were not controlled by any other of the king's ordinary courts of justice.
It now consists of two divisions, one of which exercises jurisdiction in all cases relating to the customs and excise, and over revenue matters generally. The other division is a court of common law, in which all personal actions may be brought : the exchequer court of equity was abolished by 5 Vict. e. 5.
A plaintiff, when bringing an action in this court, previously to the Act for Uni formity of Process in personal actions (2 Wm. IV. c. 39), fietitionsly alleged himself to be the king's debtor, in order to give the court jurisdiction in the cause ; but since the passing of that act it is no longer neees.oey to resort to this fiction in order to bring an action in the Court of Exchequer, as that statute assimilates the practice of all the common law courts, and the operation as well as the name of the processes issued from them are the same.
The number of officers on the plea side of the Court of Exchequer, and their several duties were regulated by 2 & 3 Wm. IV. c. 110. By 3 & 4 Wm. IV. C. 99, the following officers in the Court of Exchequer were abolished : — the lord treasurer's remembrancer, the filacer, se condaries, deputy remembrancer, and sworn and other clerks and bag-bearer belonging thereto ; clerk of the pipe, de puty-clerk of the pipe, controller and deputy-controller of the pipe, secondaries, attornies, or sworn and other clerks and bag-bearer in the said office of the pipe ; clerk of the estreats ; surveyor of the green wax ; the foreign apposer, and de puty foreign apposer, and clerk of the nichills. By 5 & 6 Vict. c. 86, certain officers on the revenue side of the court were abolished, and the office of remem brancer of the court was regulated.
An appeal lies from this court by writ of error to the justices of the courts of king's bench and common pleas sitting in the exchequer chamber, who alone have power to review the judgments of the barons : and from their decision a further appeal may be brought before the House of Lords.
The Court of Erchequer chamber was first erected in England by stat. 31 Ed ward III., to determine causes upon writs of error from the common law side of the Court of Exchequer. The judges of the three superior courts occasionally sit here to hear arguments in important criminal cases, and upon causes of great weight and difficulty, in which the judges of the courts below have not given their judg ment.
As a court of error, the Court of Ex chequer chamber underwent considerable alterations by the passing of the 11th Geo. IV. and 1st. Wm. IV. c. 70, and its con stitution is now regulated by that statute. [COURTS.] The Court V Exchequer in Scotland was established by the 6th Anne, c. 26. This court was abolished in 1832 by 2 & 3 Wm. IV. c. 54. The judges were the high treasurer of Great Britain, with a chief baron, and four other barons.
The Court of Exchequer in Ireland was established by the 40th Geo. III. c. 39, and consists of the chief justices, chief baron, and the rest of the justices and barons, or any nine of them.