Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Exchequer Definition:

A court of law designed to determine claims by the Crown.

Related Terms: King's Bench, Queen's Bench, Common Pleas, Court of Exchequer, Scaccarium

Williams 1816 law dictionary cover pageFrom the French eschequier.

The exchequer refers, generally, in English law, to the department of Government which collects revenue and which, through a distinct judicial branch, resolves disputes related to the entitlement of the Crown to monies or other interests claimed by their accountants or lawyers (i.e. court of exchequer).

Of the Court of ExchequeurWilliam Blackstone writes, in Book 3, Page 44:

"The Court of Exchequer (is) intended principally to order the revenues of the Crown and to recover the King's debts and duties.

"It is called the exchequerscaccharium from the checked cloth, resembling a chess board, which covers the table there, and on which, when certain of the king's accounts are made up, the sums are marked and scored with counters. It consists of two divisions: the receipt of the exchequer, which manages the royal revenue ... and the court or judicial part of it...."

In T. W. Williams, law dictionary in 1816, under exchequer:

"The court of exchequer is a court of law and a court of equity also.  It is a very ancient court of record, set up by William the Conqueror though regulated and reduced to its present order by King Edward I and intended principally to order the revenues of the Crown, and to recover the king's debts and duties.

"It is called the exchequer ... from the chequed cloth, resembling a chess board, which covers the table there.

"The primary and original business of this court is to call the King's debtors to account by bill filed by the Attorney General; and to recover any lands, tenements or hereditaments, any goods, chattels, or other profits or benefits, belonging to the Crown....

"[B]y their original Constitution the jurisdiction of the courts of Common Pleas, King's Bench and Exchequer, was entirely separate and distinct; the Common Pleas being intended to decide all controversies between subject and subject; the King's Bench to correct all crimes and misdemeanors that amount to a breach of the peace, the King being there (as) plaintiff, as such offenses are in open derogation of the jura regalia of his Crown; and the (Court of) Exchequer to adjust and recover his revenue, wherein the king also was plaintiff, as the withholding and nonpayment thereof is an injury to his jura fiscalia."

REFERENCES:

  • Williams, T. W., A Compendious and Comprehensive Law Dictionary Elucidating The Terms and General Principles of Law and Equity (London: Gale and Fenner, 1816).

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