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writ, writs, court, original and actions


WRIT (from AS. writan, to write, 011(1. rizan, (ler. reiSsell , to tear). A mandatory pre cept issued by a court in the name of the State for the purpose of compelling a designated per son to do sonic act specified therein. Under the common-law system of practice all actions were begun by original _writs or by bill. This practice arose from the fact that in early times in Eng 1:111(1 no wrong could be redressed except by spe cial authority from the sovereign. The dates of the origin of the older writs are not certain, hut they provide only for the redress of certain fla grant wrongs which recurred most frequently. These writs were issued by the chancellor or by the clerks of the Court of Chancery in the mime of the King. There was a long period during which no new writs were devised and justice was often denied bemuse the circumstances of a case were not similar to those alleged in any existing writ. This hardship led to the enact ment of the statute, Westminster Il.? 13 Edward 1., C. 24), by which it was provided that where there was an injury or wrong which was similar (in co»simili casu) to a recognized wrong, for which there was a remedy under an existing writ, the Court of Chancery should frame a writ to covey the new facts. The statute was not lib erally construed, but it resulted in several ad ditions to the original writs. The forms of the original writs were preserved in a court record known as The Register of Writs.

An original writ contained a short statement of the facts complained of, and directed the sheriff to command the defendant to satisfy the claim; and if lie failed to do so, to summon him to appear in court and answer the complaint.

As each writ could be used to begin an action upon any state of facts practically similar to those alleged in it, the complaint in a writ was usually a fiction, and the plaintiff was permitted to prove the actual facts upon which lie based his claim. This use of fictions became the distine tive feature of common-law pleading and con tinues where that system prevails. Among the more important writs for the beginning of real and noised actions are: The writ of right, for the recovery of real property; formedon, for the re covery of lands; dower, for the enforcement of a widow's right of dower; allure impcdit, to ascer tain the right of presentation to a benefice or to try title to an advowson; writ of entry, to try title to land. The most important writs for the beginning of personal actions are: debt, for re eovery of a stun of money due; covenant, to re cover for breach of a promise under seal; dctinuc, for the specific recovery of goods unlawfully de tained; trespass on the case, for any wrong which could not be redressed by the remedies of cove nant or trespass, and out of this writ sprang the actions of trorcr and assanysit. If the de fendant did not appear in response to an origi nal writ he was arrested under a judieial writ known as a capis ad respondendum. Other writs were the writ of snbpmna, of error, and of cer tiorari for the review of judicial decisions.