1. What does 'form' mean? Excessive formality, e.g. completing the wrong form or pleading the wrong cause of action?

  2. I can't guess the meaning.

  3. How do 1 and 2 ruin and destroy both?

Primary Source. Secondary Sources:

Laughing at the Gods: Great Judges and How They Made the Common Law, p. 32 Middle.

  Although Mansfield's more expansive judicial style is hardly considered novel or original today, its innovative and almost groundbreaking quality at the time cannot be exag- gerated. Judges tended to see themselves as operating under more prosaic restrictions than the poetic Mansfield would allow. He was unafraid to irrigate the dry soil of legal rules with more invigorating waters. For instance, in Trueman v. Fenton in 1777, he opined that "I never like to entangle justice in matters of [1.] form [End of 1.] and
[2.] to turn parties around upon frivolous objections [End of 2.]
where I can avoid it —
[3.] it only tends to the ruin and destruction of both. [End of 3.]
Consequently, Mansfield believed not that he was making new law but that he was liberating the real and abiding principles of the common law from the enchainment of earlier mistaken characteri- zations. As he put it in Pugh v. Duke of Leeds in the same year, the proper judicial task was "not to make new law, but to vindicate the old from misrepresentation." Although he did not go so far as to declare that unjust rules could not be law (as some of his later judicial heirs, like Tom Denning, have done), he did work his hardest to make law and justice coalesce.

Lord Mansfield: Justice in the Age of Reason, p. 229 Middle.

  Mansfield's decisions in commercial cases, as in other areas of the law, were intensely practical. Where he thought it necessary or appropriate, he abandoned the formality Of traditional common law pleading rules in order to provide legal protection to a broad range of commercial assets, transactions, and practices.70 His aim was to get as quickly as possible to the essential issue or issues involved in a dispute and to resolve the dispute in accordance with principles Of justice and fair dealing. He Stated in one opinion: "I never like to entangle justice in matters of form, and to turn parties round on frivolous objections where I can avoid it. It only tends to the ruin and destruction of both ... The question therefore ... is ... whether the facts support the merits of the defendant's plea."71

1 Answer 1


He means this:

"Equity regards substance rather than form."

Equity will not permit justice to be withheld just because of a technicality. Formalities that frustrate justice will be disregarded and a better approach found for each case. Equity enforces the spirit rather than the letter of the law alone.

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