A History of the Common Law of Contract: The Rise of the Action of Assumpsit

A History of the Common Law of Contract: The Rise of the Action of Assumpsit

A History of the Common Law of Contract: The Rise of the Action of Assumpsit

A History of the Common Law of Contract: The Rise of the Action of Assumpsit

Excerpt

This paperback edition reprints the text as originally published in 1975, with only minor typographical corrections. Since then there has been a modest amount of writing on the history of contract; in particular the following pieces need to be noted. At a general level S. J. Stoljar's History of Contract at Common Law appeared in the same year; it covers a longer period, necessarily in less detail. On the medieval law R. H. Helmholz ' important Assumpsit and Fidei Laesio (1975) 91 L.Q.R.406 also appeared too late to be taken into account; it would have led me to modify the account of the enforcement of contracts in the ecclesiastical courts. D. J. Ibbetson has published an important article on the early history of the action of covenant in Words and Deeds: The Action of Covenant in the Reign of Edward I (1986) 4 Law and History Review 71. The original edition also unaccountably failed to include references to W. M. McGovern's valuable writings on medieval contract law, Contract in Medieval England (1968) 54 Iowa Law Review 19, The Enforcement of Oral Contracts Prior to Assumpsit (1970) 65 Northwestern University Law Review 576, and The Enforcement of Informal Contracts in the Later Middle Ages (1971) 59 Californian Law Review 1145. For this I take this opportunity to apologize. M. S. Arnold's Fourteenth Century Promises (1976) 35 Cambridge Law Journal 321 and his 1986 Selden Society edition of fourteenth century trespass actions (Select Cases of Trespass from the King's Courts 1307-1399, Selden Society Vol. 100) are both important, the latter including a number of assumpsit cases. For the sixteenth century J. H. Baker's Selden Society edition of Spelman's Reports (Volumes 93 and 94 for 1977 and 1978), and in particular his introduction to Volume 94 at pp. 255-298, fills in many details in the establishment of assumpsit for nonfeasance, without I think radically affecting the account I gave. The evolution of the doctrine of consideration remains controversial and has been discussed by J. H. Baker in a contribution to On the Laws and Customs of England: Essays in Honor of Samuel E. Thorne . . .

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