English legal history: answers, and a further question

March 5

Yesterday, I posted some questions from my English Legal History exam. Below is another question. And below that are the answers (in abbreviated form) from yesterday’s question.

You are the lawyer to William the Cromulent. William wanted his house painted, and hired Reginald Mugglesworth to do it for £1, payable upon completion. The two of them shook hands on it. Now — having found some more lucrative work — Reginald refuses to paint William’s house. How would you advise William to litigate this:

a) in 1200?
b) in 1500?
c) in 1610?
d) How would your answers to (a)–(c) change if, instead of promising to paint William’s house, Reginald had promised to deliver 100 sacks of barley?

And now, the answers (in abbreviated form) to yesterday’s question:

You are the lawyer to Countess Joan. Before her marriage, she was seised of a parcel of land called Gambrell. During her marriage, her husband, Count Geoffrey, granted the land to Roger. Now Count Geoffrey is dead, Roger is seised of Gambrell, and Countess Joan wants Gambrell back. How would you advise her to litigate this:

a) in 1100? Sue in your own feudal court.
b) in 1190? Writ of right in royal court.
c) in 1230? Writ of entry cui in vita.
d) in 1350? Novel disseisin.
e) in 1600? Fictitious ejectment action.

Sasha Volokh lives in Atlanta with his wife and three kids, and is an associate professor at Emory Law School. He has written numerous articles and commentaries on law and economics, privatization, antitrust, prisons, constitutional law, regulation, torts, and legal history.
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