Archive for the ‘Legal history’ Category

What is an Account Stated? (A Common Law Cause of Action that Has Outlived its Usefulness) (2016-8-10)

California still recognizes certain antiquated common law causes of action.  When I say antiquated, I mean that the cause of action has been known at law from longer than 600 years. One of the common law causes of action is the “account stated.”  Here’s an explanation from Karl Llewellyn, the principal draftsman of UCC Article […]






McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) and the Second Bank of the United States (2016-6-11)

Today, McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) is cited for its interpretation of Congress’ powers under the Constitution.  But the case actually involved the Second Bank of the United States, a contentious period in our history. The first Bank of the United States was established in 1791 by Congress.  It had a 20-year charter.  Hamilton was a […]






The Missing Records of the High Commisson (2016-6-3)

The High Commission was a court that existed in England for more than a century, engendering substantial political dispute.  Originally intended for ecclesiatical disputes, the spread of its jurisdiction caused major friction.  Yet its records have all disappeared, save for contemporaneous writings.  Here is some facinating history. “Historians have seen in the High Commission’s existence […]






The ABCs of Future Public Payments Law – Prof. Mark Burge (2016-1-8)

Strange how an idea that was once old can become new again.  Roscoe Pound, Dean of the Harvard Law School, was a prolific legal writer in the 1920s and 1930s.  From my perspective, his best work concerned the development of the American legal system from 1850 through 1900, as America reached the end of its […]






Lawsuits in England in the 17th Century – As Bad as Today (2015-11-13)

The “High Commission” was a court specially established by the Crown in 1535 after the founding of the Church of England.  As the head of state was also the head of the church, heresy became, in effect, an act of treason, giving the Crown a special interest in ecclesiastical matters. The jurisdiction of the High […]






Lord Mansfield and Sommersett’s Case (2015-10-19)

In 1927, Prof. William Holdsworth delivered four lectures on legal history to American audiences, which lectures were collected in Some Lessons from Our Legal History (The Macmillan Company 1928).  Holdsworth, a law professor at Oxford, held “the oldest University Chair in English law in the world,” a chair first held by William Blackstone in 1758. […]






Interpretations of Legal History (The Macmillan Company 1923) (2015-10-9)

Roscoe Pound, dean of Harvard Law School, was an influential legal scholar with a large body of writings.  Some say he later contradicted himself; perhaps, but his earlier writings offer deep insight into the American legal system. (Pound was born in 1870, and was raised in Nebraska.  His chief academic training was as a botanist, […]






The UCC Remains Relevant (2015-9-10)

The Uniform Commercial Code covers a wide scope of commercial transactions, from the sale of goods to warehouse receipts to secured transactions.  Article 3 deals with promissory notes, sometimes referred to as negotiable instruments. In his 2012 book,  The End of Negotiable Instruments, James Steven Rogers argued that most of the law contained in Article […]






Knowledge of the law is like a deep well (2015-7-17)

Sir Edward Coke was born in 1552.  He was regarded as a great lawyer.  He was twice married, his domestic life being full of quarrels.  Coke was one of the most truculent of English lawyers, and an arch-rival of Francis Bacon.  “He was a potent element in Francis Bacon’s ruin,” says Dean Church. On the […]






Roscoe Pound on the Development of English Law (2015-6-4)

Roscoe Pound, Dean of Harvard Law from 1916 to 1936, was a prolific writer in 1920s and 1930s regarding jurisprudence.  Here is Dean Pound’s description – both succinct and accurate – regarding the path of the law. “The historical school thought of each in terms of the growth of an organism, in terms of a […]