Common law may be described as a branch of the law of England which was developed by the ancient common law courts e.g. Court of Exchequer, Kings Bench and Common
Pleas from customs, usages and practices of the English people. These courts applied the peoples customs in dispute resolution, thereby elevating the customs to rules of law.
They universalized and standardized the customs. The evolution of common law is tied to the doctrine of stare decisis and the writ system. The growth of the common law was
characterized by various challenges, for example procedural technicalities, delay, inadequate remedies, writ system, non recognition of trusts etc. Common law differs
from equity in many respects:
- It developed before equity i.e. it is an older system of rules.
- It was developed by a different court system. Equity was developed by the Lord Chancellors Courts.
- The common law courts were guided by the writ system and doctrine of stare decisis. Equity courts relied on other principles, for example fairness.
- Common law had only one remedy, namely damages, while equity developed many others e.g. injunction, rescission, specific performance etc.
- Common law acts in rem while equity acts in personam.
- If the two sources of law conflict equity prevails.
- Common law developed as a complete system of rules while equity did not.