in the UK, the Lord Chancellor's court, the highest court of judicature next to the House of Lords
; but, since the Judicature Act of 1873 a division of the High Court of Justice. It formerly consisted of two distinct tribunals, one ordinary, being a court of common law
, the other extraordinary, being a court of equity. To the former belonged the issuing of writs for a new parliament, and of all original writs. The second proceeded upon rules of equity and conscience, moderating the rigour of the common law
, and giving relief in cases where there was no remedy in the common-law courts; it is in this role that it is shown in Dickens's Bleak House
, presiding over the apparently interminable case of the Jarndyce
estate, and entangling the many hopeless claimants who expect a judgement shortly.
The expression in chancery
, referring to the head of a boxer or wrestler held under an opponent's head and being pummelled, derives from the tenacity and absolute control which the Court of Chancery was believed to exert, and to the certainty of cost and loss to property which was ‘in chancery’.
, court developed in the 15th century for the lord chancellor
to deal with petitions from aggrieved persons for redress when no remedy was available in the common law
courts. By the mid-17th century, Chancery had become a second system of law (equity) rather than a reforming agency. By the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (1925), the court of Chancery was merged into the High Court of Justice
, of which it is now known as the Chancery Divison.
The old English court in which the monarch's secretary, or Chancellor, began hearing lawsuits during the fourteenth century.
The decisions rendered there were based on conscience and fairness rather than on the strict common-law forms of action. In the United States, courts like the old chancery have been called courts of chancery or courts of equity.