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Ejectment in United Kingdom

Meaning of Ejectment

The following is an old definition of Ejectment [1]: An action to recover possession of realty, with damages for the wrongful detention. See Ejectio. Originally devised for a lessee ousted of his term of years, and who, having but a chattel interest, could not support a real action for recovery of possession. In effect, the action was for the trespass; and the remedy was in damages for the dispossession. Later, it was decided that the lessee could also recover his term. This brought the action into general use; and by the formalities of lease, entry, and ouster (which see below), the action was converted into a method of trying, collaterally, the title of the lessor. Then, as the title was never formally and directly in issue, but the trespass for the expulsion only, the verdict was not pleadable in bar of another trespass. Thus it came that a verdict and judgment were conclusive only as regarded personalty. Afterward, when the fictions were abolished, the idea of a difference as between realty and personalty lingered in many States, a single verdict and judgment was not considered conclusive, and provision was made by statute for a second trial. Where no such provision exists a former action may be a bar. In the original action the plaintiff had to prove a lease from the person shown to have title, an entry under the lease, and an ouster by some third person. The modified action was brought by a fictitious person as lessee against another fictitious person (the casual ejector) alleged to have committed the ouster. Service was made upon the tenant in possession, with notice from the casual ejector to appear and defend. If the tenant failed to do this, judgment was given by default and the claimant put in possession, if he did appear, he was allowed to defend only by entering into the “consent rule,” by which he confessed the fictitious lease, entry, and ouster to have been made, leaving only the title in question. See Doe. These fictions were abolished in England by the common-law procedure act of 1852, and further changes were made by the judicature acts of 1873 and 1875. In some States the action has never been adopted; in others it has been materially modified by statute; in a few it still exists in its original form. The ancient form is also employed in the circuit courts of the United States sitting in States where the old form was observed when those courts were established. Ejectment is the remedy to recover a corporeal hereditament – an estate in fee-simple, fee-tail, for life, or for years; not, for rent, a right of way, or dower. The plaintiff, at the time of the institution of the suit, must have a right of entry and of possession under legal title. In tlie Federal courts of law, the strict legal title prevails. The defendant must be in actual possession, and notice be given to the terretenant. The action is maintainable by a joint tenant or a tenant in common against a co-tenant who has dispossessed him. Recovery is upon the strength of the plaintiff’s title, not upon the weakness of the defendant’s, with proof of injury equivalent to a dispossession. The plea of ” not guilty ” raises the general issue. The judgment is, that the plaintiff recover his term, or the possession of the land, and damages, which, as a rule, are nominal. See Possession, Adverse; Profits, 1, Mesne. Equitable ejectment. Ejectment at law, upon an equitable title; in effect, a bill in, equity for the specific performance of a contract or obligation to convey land. In Pennsylvania, whenever a court of equity will presume a trust to have arisen, compel its execution, or enforce an article of agreement, the courts of law by this means will administer the same relief. Ejectment bill. Generally, a bill in equity will not lie if it is in substance and effect an ejectment bill, and if the relief it seelis can be obtained by an action in ejectment.

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Notes and References

  1. Concept of Ejectment 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)


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Glanville L. Williams, 'Ejectment' (lawi.org.uk 2017) <https://lawi.org.uk/ejectment/> accesed 2021 June 19

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Schema Summary

  • Article Name: Ejectment
  • Author: Glanville L. Williams
  • Description: Meaning of Ejectment The following is an old definition of Ejectment [1]: An action to recover possession of realty, with [...]

This entry was last updated: May 31, 2017

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