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Court of Conscience in United Kingdom

Meaning of Court of Conscience

The following is an old definition of Court of Conscience [1]: The title of a court for the recovery of debts not exceeding forty shillings, formerly existing in some districts of England, as, in London, for the benefit of trade. Examinations were summary, on the oath of the parties and witnesses. Such order was made as seemed consonant with equity and conscience. In 1846 jurisdiction was transferred to the county courts.

Court of Conscience

Also known as the Court of Requests [ A minor court of equity which fluorished during the Tudor and early Stuart periods, in origin closely related to the Court of Star Chamber. Originally it exercised jurisdiction at the suit of poor men or the King’s servants. The Lord Privy Seal was its president, but ocntrol was assumed by the legal assessors, the Masters of requests. It supplemented both Star Chamber and Chancery (qq.v.) and was a popular court. It was attacked by the courts of common law which denied that it was a legal court. It was practically abolished in 1641. The name was also applied to inferior small claims courts established by statute in various places, and all superseded in 1864 by the modern county courts], a court established in London in 1517 consisting of two aldermen and four, later 12, common councilmen, as commissioners to decide matters of debt between citizens and freeman of the City. It was abolished in 1847 and merged in the Sheriff’s Court of the City of London (q.v.) which was in turn absorbed in the county court system. There were also some other courts, passing under this name, held by members of various corporations for the recovery of debts. The Court of Chancery (q.v.) was also sometimes called a court of conscience.

Source: The Oxford Companion to Law, 1980, p. 305.


Notes and References

  1. Concept of Court of Conscience 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)

Further Reading

I. S. Leadam, Select Cases in the Court of Requests, 1497-1569

English Law: Court of Conscience in the Past

The name of a court in London It has equity (see more about this popular legal topic in the U.K. encyclopedia) jurisdiction in certain cases The reader is referred to Bac. Ab. Courts in London, 2. [1]


Notes and References

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

See Also

Law is our Passion

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Schema Summary

  • Article Name: Court of Conscience
  • Author: Glanville L. Williams
  • Description: Meaning of Court of Conscience The following is an old definition of Court of Conscience [1]: The title of a court for the [...]

This entry was last updated: July 3, 2020


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