The Law Dictionary

Featuring Black’s Law Dictionary Free Online Legal Dictionary 2nd Ed.


In English law. A very ancient court of record, set up by William the Conqueror as a part of the aula regis, and afterwards one of the four superior courts at Westminster, it was, however, inferior in rank to both the king’s bench and the common pleas. It was presided over by a chief buroii and four puisne barons. It was originally the king’s treasury, and was charged with keeping the king’s accounts and collecting the royal revenues. But pleas between subject and subject were anciently heard there, until this was forbidden by the Articula super (J hart as, (1290,) after which its jurisdiction as a court only extended to revenue cases arising out of the non-payment or withholding of debts to the crown. But the privilege of suing and being sued in this court was extended to the king’s accountants, and later, by the use of a convenient fiction to the effect that the plaintiff was the king’s debtor or accountant, the court was thrown open to all suitors in personal actions. The exchequer had formerly both an equity side and a common-law side, but its equity jurisdiction was taken away by the statute 5 Vict. c. 5, (1842,) and transferred to the court of chancery. The judicature act (1873) transferred the business and jurisdiction of this court to the “Exchequer Division” of the “High Court of Justice.” In Scotch law. A court which formerly had jurisdiction of matters of revenue, and a limited jurisdiction over cases between the crown and its vassals where no questions of title were involved.

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