The Common Law and the Law of Equity Peculiarities
An important feature of the common law tradition is equity. By the fourteenth century many people in England were dissatisfied with the inflexibility of the common law, and a practice developed of appealing directly to the king or to his chief legal administrator, the lord chancellor. As the lord chancellor's court became more willing to modify existing common law in order to solve disputes, a new system of law developed alongside the common law. This system recognized rights that were not enforced as common law but which were considered "equitable", or just, such as the right to force someone to fulfill a contract rather than simply pay damages for breaking it or the rights of a beneficiary of trust. The courts of common law and of equity existed alongside each other for centuries, if an equitable principle would bring a different result from a common law ruling on the same case, then the general rule was that equity should prevail,
One problem resulting from the existence of two systems of justice was that a person often had to begin actions in different courts in order to get a satisfactory solution. For example, in a breach (breaking) of contract claim, a person had to seek specific performance (an order forcing the other party to do something) in court of equity, and damages (monetary compensation for his loss) in a common law court. In 1873, the two systems were unified, and nowadays a lawyer can pursue common law and equitable claims in the same court.
The spread of common law in the world is due both to the once widespread influence of Britain in the world and the growth of its former colony, the United States. Although judges in one common law country cannot directly support their decisions by cases from another, it is permissible for a judge to note such evidence in giving an explanation. Nevertheless, political divergence has produced legal divergence from England. Unified federal law is only a small part of American law. Most of it is produced by individual states and reflects various traditions. The state of Louisiana, for example, has a Roman civil form of law which derives from its days as a French colony. California has a case law tradition, but its laws are codified as extensively as many Continental systems. Quebec is an island of French law in the Canadian sea of case law. In India, English common law has been codified and adopted alongside a Hindu tradition of law. Sri Lanka has inherited a criminal code from the Russian law introduced by the Dutch, and an uncodified civil law introduced by the British.
1.What was the Lord Chancellor?
2.What is an important feature of the common law tradition?
3.Why did Lord Chancellor’s court become more willing to modify existing common law?
4.What other law systems and traditions do you know?
5.What form of law has the state of Louisiana?
6.What is the problem resulting from the existence of two systems of justice?
7.What rights did new system of law recognize?
8.How long did the courts of common law and of equity exist alongside each other?
9.When should the equity prevail?
10. What had a person to do in order to get a satisfactory solution?
11. What is the difference between the court of equity and the common law court?
12. What is the result of the two systems unification?
13. What is the spread of common law due to?
14. What many people in England were dissatisfied with?
15. When were the two systems unified?
Task 5. a) Give the Ukrainian equivalents for the following: