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4. Arbitrary Chancellors and the Problem of Predictability

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Chapter Summary

The evidence for concern about arbitrary decision-making is a lot denser for English Equity than for the praetors. The author subdivides the heading of 'arbitrary Chancellors' into two parts: evidence of concern about the potential for arbitrary decision-making, and evidence of actual arbitrary decision-making. In the early 15th century what was involved is arguably a form of administrative review of judicial action, or the Chancellor as an ombudsman for judicial maladministration. It remains impossible to write the history of Chancery Equity before the 19th century except as a history of the ideas of the individual Chancellors. There may be a connection between the index form and the practice of formal search for precedents which is found episodically in the reports and records from Egerton on. The overall effect was that the single judge in Chancery was, by the mid-19th century, subject to control by a collegiate court of appeal.

Keywords: arbitrary Chancellors; arbitrary decision-making; Chancery Equity; collegiate court



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