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Wager Of Law

English Law: Wager of Law in the Past

When an action of debt is brought against a man upon a simple contract and the defendant pleads nil debit and concludes his plea with this formula, “And this he is ready to defend against him the said A B and his suit, as the court of our lord the king here must consider,” etc., he is said to wage his law. He is then needd to swear he owes the plaintiff nothing and bring eleven compurgators who will swear they believe him. This mode of trial, is trial by wager of law.


The wager of law could only be had in actions of debt on simple contract and actions of detinue; as a result of this right of the defendant, now actions on simple contracts (see more about this popular legal topic in the U.K. encyclopedia) are brought in assumpsit and instead of bridging detinue, trover has been substituted.


If ever wager of law had any existence in the United States of America, it is now completely abolished. 8 Wheat. 642. Vide Steph. on Plead. 124, 250 and notes, xxxix.; Co. Entr. 119; Mod. Entr. 179; Lilly’s Entr. 467; 3 Ch it. Pl. 497; 13 Vin. Ab. 58; Bac. Ab. h. t.; Dane’s Ab. Index, h. t. For the origin of this form of trial, vide Steph. on Pl. notes xxxix; Co. Litt. 294, 5 3 Bl. Com. 341. [1]


Notes and References

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

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  • Article Name: Wager Of Law
  • Author: Shelby Perry
  • Description: English Law: Wager of Law in the Past When an action of debt is brought against a man upon a simple contract and the [...]

This entry was last updated: October 20, 2020


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