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Assize in United Kingdom

Definition of Assize

In accordance with the work A Dictionary of Law, this is a description of Assize :

1. An assize court or council. In modern times assizes were sittings of High Court judges travelling on circuits around the country with commissions from the Crown to hear cases. These commissions were either of oyer, terminer, and general gaol delivery, empowering the judges to try the most serious criminal cases, or of nisi prius, empowering them to try civil actions. These assizes were abolished by the Courts Act 1971, and the criminal jurisdiction of assizes was transferred to the Crown Court. At the same time, the High Court was empowered to hear civil cases anywhere in England and Wales without the need for a special commission

2. A statute or ordinance, e.g. the Assize of Clarendon, Novel Disseisi

Meaning of Assize

The following is an old definition of Assize [1]: Originally, an assembly me for the purpose of ascertaining something judicially: a jury, or court; a session or sit ting; then the place where, as also the tim when, the session was held, the writ unde which it convened, the finding or resolution and the proceedings as a whole. Hence – regulation, an ordinance, a statute, – some thing determined and established; a tax o tribute of a definite amount; also, the reducing a thing to certainty – in number, quan tity, quality, weight, measure, time, place. At first, the jury who tried a cause, ” sitting together” for that purpose. Then, by a figure, the court or jurisdiction which summoned the jury by a commission of assize. Hence, the judicial assemblage held by the king’s commission in the various counties were (and still are) termed, in common speech, “the assizes.” By still another figure, an action for recovering possession of lands – because the sheriff summons a jury or assize. Designates the court, the place, or the time where the judges of the superior courts of Westminster try questions of fact, issuing out of those comis, ready for trial by jury. “The assizes” are the sittings of the judges at the various places they visit on their circuits, four times a year in vacation. “Assize ” also sometimes denotes a jury, and sometimes a writ. “Assizes “is the word most in use in modem books. It often signifies a single court,


Notes and References

  1. Concept of Assize provided by the Anderson Dictionary of Law (1889) (Dictionary of Law consisting of Judicial Definitions and Explanations of Words, Phrases and Maxims and an Exposition of the Principles of Law: Comprising a Dictionary and Compendium of American and English Jurisprudence; William C. Anderson; T. H. Flood and Company, Law Publishers, Chicago, United States)

English Law: Assize in the Past

This was the name of an ancient court; it derived its name from assideo, to sit together. Litt. s. 234; Co. Litt. 153 b., 159 b. It was a kind of jury before which no evidence was adduced, their verdict being regarded as a statement of facts, which they knew of their own knowledge. Bract. iv. 1, 6.


The name of assize was also given to a remedy for the restitution of a freehold, of which the complainant had been disseised. Bac. Ab. h. t. Assizes were of four kinds: Mort d’ancestor Novel Disseisin Darrien Presentment; and Utrum. Neale’s F. & F. 84. This reimedy has given way to others less perplexed and more expeditious. Bac. Ab. h. t.; Co. Litt. 153-155.


The final judgment for the plaintiff in an assize of Novel Disseisin, is, that he recover per visum recognitorum and it is sufficiently certain. if the recognitors can put the demandant in possession. Dyer, 84 b; 10 Wentw. PI. 221, note. In this action, the plaintiff cannot be compelled to be nonsuited. Plowd. 11 b. See 17 Serg. & R. 187; 1 Rawle, Rep. 48, 9.

Other Aspects

There is, however, in this class of actions, an interlocutory judgment or award in the nature of a judgment and which to divers intents and purposes, is a judgment; 11 Co. Rep. 40 b; like the judgment of quod computet, in account make; or quod partitio flat, in partition; quod mensuratio fiat; ouster of aid; award of a writ of inquiry, in waste.; of damages (see more about this popular legal topic in the U.K. encyclopedia) in trespass; upon these and the like judgments, a writ of error does not lie. 11 Co. Rep. 40 a; Metcalf’s Case, 2 Inst. 344 a: 24 Ed. III, 29 B 19. [1]


Notes and References

  1. Partialy, this information about assize is based on the Bouvier´s Law Dictionary, 1848 edition. There is a list of terms of the Bouvier´s Law Dictionary, including assize.

See Also

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Schema Summary

  • Article Name: Assize
  • Author: Agostino Von Hassell
  • Description: Definition of Assize In accordance with the work A Dictionary of Law, this is a description of Assize : 1. An assize court [...]

This entry was last updated: January 2, 2020


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