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The Oxford History of the Laws of England: Volume XI1820–1914 English Legal System$
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William Cornish, J Stuart Anderson, Ray Cocks, Michael Lobban, Patrick Polden, and Keith Smith

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199258819

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199258819.001.0001

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General Introduction

General Introduction

Chapter:
(p.525) I General Introduction
Source:
The Oxford History of the Laws of England: Volume XI
Author(s):

Patrick Polden

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199258819.003.0016

This chapter shows that by the late 19th century changes in structures of the law would seem more notable for what had been preserved than for what had been replaced or transformed. The superior courts of law had deserted Westminster Hall for a splendid edifice in the Strand; two of the three historic courts of common law — the Common Pleas and Exchequer — had passed into history, while the King's Bench, had been relegated to the status of a mere division in a new entity, a ‘Supreme Court of Judicature’ (SCJ). Below the level of the SCJ the changes were, at least on the civil side, more drastic, though criminal justice continued to be dispensed chiefly by the lay justices of the peace, either in quarter or petty sessions; stipendiary magistrates, already known in 1814, were to be found only in a few places outside London. Country courts were something new, products of mid-century legislation and named after the ancient county courts in order to provide a spurious pedigree.

Keywords:   English law, SCJ, country courts, legal history

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