Attorney Plaintiff Defendant Tort Negligence Estate Reasonableness Oyez Law French legacies
…because the laws, Customs, and Statutes of this Realm…be pleaded, shewed and judged in the French Tongue…and the People…have no Knowledge nor understanding of that which is said for them or against them by their Serjeants or Pleaders…the King hath ordained that all Pleas which shall be pleaded in [any] Court…shall be pleaded, shewed, defended, answered, debated and judged in the English Tongue, and that they be entered and enrolled in Latin… Statute of Pleading, 1362
Richardson, ch. Just. de C. Banc al Assises at Salisbury in Summer 1631. fuit assault per prisoner la condemnepur felony quepuis son condemnation ject un Brickbat a le dit Justice que narrowly mist, & purceo immediately fuit Indictment drawn per Noyenvers le Prisoner, & son dextermanusampute & fix al Gibbet, surqueluymesmeimmediatementhange in presence de Court. Law French, 1688
Richardson, Ch(ief) Just(ice) of Common Bench at the Assizes at Salisbury in Summer 1631. There was an assault by a prisoner there condemned for felony; who, following his condemnation, threw a brickbat at the said Justice, which narrowly missed. And for this, an indictment was immediately drawn by Noy against the prisoner, and his right hand was cut off and fastened to the gibbet, on which he himself was immediately hanged in the presence of the Court. Law French, 1688
Glanville, c. 1188 …to reduce in every instance the Laws and Constitutions of the Realm into writing, would be, in our times, absolutely impossible, as well on account of the ignorance of writers, as of the confused multiplicity of the Laws. But there are some, which, as they more generally occur in Court, and are more frequently used, it appears to me not presumptuous to put into writing, but rather very useful to most persons, and highly necessary to assist the memory.
Fleta …to many who are hurried and many who are unlearned (among whom I include myself) a compendium in a small volume of the judgments of upright judges may be very necessary, for the enquirer will escape turning over a large number of books and chapters when, without trouble, he is given what he seeks, brought together in a brief space…[T]his treatise…might be called “Fleet”…because in Fleet it was written on the law of the English people…
EDWARD I by the grace of God, king of England, lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine, to all his faithful people and subjects of England and Ireland, peace and grace of salvation. Desiring peace among the people who by God's per- mission are under our protection, which peace cannot well be without law, we have caused such laws as have heretofore been used in our realm to be reduced into writing according to that which is here ordained… Britton
Pleaders’ handbooks BreviaPlacitata Casus Placitorum
Ye shall swear that well and truly ye shall serve the king’s people as one of the serjeants at law. And ye shall truly counsel them that ye shall be retained with, after your cunning. And ye shall not defer, tract or delay their causes willingly for covetise of money or other thing that may turn you to profit. And ye shall give attendance accordingly. As God you help, and his saints. The serjeants’ oath
Yet stood there scores of men in scarves of silk - Law serjeants - they seemed to serve in court, Pleaded cases for pennies and impounded the law And not for the love of our Lord unloosed their lips once. You might better measure mist on Malvern Hills Than get a "mum" from their lips till money is showed.
And counters on the bench that stand by the bar They will beguile you in your hand unless you are beware He will take 40 pence to take down his hood, And speak for you a word and do you little good I warrant.
Attorneys in country, they get silver for naught They make men begin what they never had thought And when they come to the ring, they hope if they can. All they can get that way, they think all is won for them With skill.
No man should trust them, so false are they in the bile. Poem on the Evil Times of Edward II
A serjeant of the law, wary and wise,Who'd often gone to Paul's walk to advise,There was also, compact of excellence.Discreet he was, and of great reverence;At least he seemed so, his words were so wise.Often he sat as justice in assize,By patent or commission from the crown;Because of learning and his high renown,He took large fees and many robes could own.So great a purchaser was never known.All was fee simple to him, in effect,Wherefore his claims could never be suspect.
Nowhere a man so busy of his class,And yet he seemed much busier than he was.All cases and all judgments could he citeThat from King William's time were apposite.And he could draw a contract so explicitNot any man could fault therefrom elicit;And every statute he'd verbatim quote.He rode but badly in a medley coat,Belted in a silken sash, with little bars,But of his dress no more particulars.
…the law semethe of nowgtheels in these days but onley for to do wronge for nothing almoste is spedd, but false malice. By cowlour of lawe for mededrede or favoure and no remedye is had in the cowrte of conscience nor otharwsye. Jack Cade’s Rebellion, 1450
Shakespeare, Henry VI Part II, 1591 “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” “…burn all the records of the realm; my mouth shall be the parliament of England.”
Why did Law French become the principal language of English law in the Middle Ages? How did the creation ceremony of the serjeants reflect the realities of that part of the legal profession? How did the physical circumstances of the courts at Westminster reflect prevailing beliefs about law? What were the various social critics of medieval English lawyers unhappy about? Review questions