Historical Treatise

By Riera


An ACTION or Suit at Law;

Proceedings used in the King's Bench and Common Pleas,

from the Original Processes to the judgments in both
Courts; wherein the Reason and Ufage of the old, ob-
fcure and formal Parts of our Writs and Pleadings, such
especially as have Reference, or relate to the ancient
Method of Practice, as well before the Statute of Nisi
prius as afterwards, are duly considered, in order to
Thew from whence they arole.

An Account of the Alterations that have been made from Time

to Time for regulating the Courfe of Practice in the feveral

Such Remarks and Obfervations, as tend to explain and illustrate

the prefent Mode of Practice;

Pointing out fuch Particulars as would contra& the Proceedings,

and render them more concise, plain and significant, and lefs

expensive to the Suiters.
Nefcire quid antequam natus fis acciderit, id eft femper efe puerum,

Β Τ .

For W. Owen, between the Temple-Gates, Fleet-freeti




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HE Obscurity and Expence which

necessarily attend the conducting of a Suit at Law, especially where Special Pleadings are requisite to be made, have long been the Subject of Complaint, not only to Clients who sensibly feel these Inconveniences, but likewise to every conscientious Practitioner of the Law.


The Courts at Westminster have long been sensible of this Grievance; and nothing perhaps could be more agreeable to the Sages of the Law, as well as Clients themselves, than to point out some Method by which the Proceedings in a Suit may

be contracted or reduced into Forms more concise, and consequently less intricate and less expensive than they are at present.

To effect so desireable an End, nothing will be more conducive than the diibarA 2


thening the Pleadings in a Suit of that great Number of dark and obícure References to ancient Customs and Things, with which (though they are now become obsolete, and apparently unnecessary) the Proceedings at Law still continue to be enveloped, obscured, and rendered unnecessarily expensive.

The following Historical Treatise of a Suit at Law, is intended, not only to illustrate and explain such formal Parts of our Writs and Pleadings, but to point out fuch Parts of them as, having no other Foundation than in ancient Use and Cuftoms, it is apprehended may be very well spared, and the remaining Part of the Pleadings thereby not only rendered more clear, fignificant and intelligible, but at the same Time less grievous to the Client.

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How far the Detail I have engaged in, may

be found fufficient to answer the End I had in View must be left to the Reader's Juugment to determine. But, if from the Reflections and Observations which are suggested in the Course of this Work, there is Matter suiticient pointed out, to shew the Reasonableness and Expediency of such a Reformation in the present Mode of Law Proceedings, it is hoped some Gentleman who may be more equal to the Talk, will improve upon the Hints I havef

given, and more effectually point out the Manner in which such a Reformation, or Amendment, may be brought about; and that those who alone have it in their Power, will one Day .put a finishing Hand to a Work so extremely necessary and so much wished for. Till something of this Sort be done, we must still puzzle on in the obscure and dark Tracts of Antiquity, in which the young Practitioners often lose their Way, to the manifest Delay of Juflice, and to the no small Expence of the Client.

King James the First was so fenfible of the great Burthen and Inconveniences of the superfluous Branches in Law Proceedings in his Time, that in a Speech in the Star-Chamber in 1614 (as I have read in an old Tract of . Cooke's) he promised to cut them all off, though in Reality we do not find any great Matter was done towards it in his Time. And in the troublesome Reign of his unhappy Son King Charles the First (the Martyr to the Laws and Religion of his Kingdom) there was no Time for Reflection on Matters of this Sort ; but in the Reign of King Charles the second, the Grievances arising from hence were thought so great, that the Courts at Westminster, to their Honour be it remembered, took the Matter into their Confideration

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