These are mainly records arising from actions in the Chancery and Queen's Bench Divisions of the High Court of Justice; down to March 1880 they belong to the Chancery Division. Thereafter, they also include pleadings from the Queen's Bench Division and a few from the Exchequer and Common Pleas Divisions. They include statements of claim, defence and counterclaims, associates' certificates concerning trial of action and its outcome, certificates of costs, notices of change of solicitor, etc. Some relate to actions tried at provincial assizes and were handled by district registries.
Among the more important types of proceedings to be found in the Chancery pleadings are actions relating to partnerships, mortgages, trusts and tenancy agreements etc. The Queen's Bench pleadings are mainly of a commercial character and concern such matters as breach of contract, actions of debt and damages and claims for compensation for injuries. There are also some pleadings relating to libel actions and breaches of promise.
Chancery pleadings later than 1942 (apart from a small sample covering the years 1979-1983) have not been preserved apart from those associated with other papers in the action and placed in dossiers in accordance with the recommendations of the Denning Report of the Committee on Legal Records (Cmnd 3084), published in 1966. Such records are in J 84 and comprise a 2% random sample of all cases, together with certain other cases considered to be of historical interest. Queen’s Bench pleadings continue to be filed separately by the court at present, and this series contains a sample dating from 1979 to 1998.
PLEASE NOTE: J 54/1548 is available to download free of charge as part of the Digital Microfilm project.