Maureen Mulholland
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Trials in manorial courts in late medieval England

This chapter considers specifically with the procedure of the medieval manorial courts. It is characteristic of medieval English law that the courts did not recognise a strict separation between substantive and procedural law, and that substantive law was neither separate from nor more important than procedure. In the manorial, as in the common law courts, proper procedure was not merely an adjunct to a just hearing but, as in the American doctrine of due process, was integral to it. The common law courts were growing throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, expanding their jurisdiction over civil litigation through the development of the forms of action, but they did not provide quick, simple and accessible justice in minor local disputes. Trials in the manorial courts fulfilled the condition of openness as they were held in the heart of the manor, in a place prescribed by manorial custom.

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