Actions/Writs in Use at Common Law: Numbers

Prior to the Black Death the action of account was set to displace the action of debt. Debt sought straightforwardly the payment of a debt. Account sought not repayment, but merely the formal accounting for a period as a bailiff or a receiver of money. The action of account, however, used more coercive process. That process encouraged litigants to formulate debt claims as suits for an accounting. In the more coercive atmosphere after the Black Death, debt received process that was the same as in account, whereon account shrank to involve situations in which receiving an accounting was the actual purpose of the suit. The action of debt (to reclaim just the sum owed or to enforce penal and performance bonds) went on to constitute not just the majority of suits for obligations but even the majority of all litigation in the court of common pleas. The top graph with a white background shows the predominance of suits for account as a receiver in 1347.

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