nThe common law developed a complex series of writs. A writ is simply another term for a court order. In order
to obtain justice at common
law, a plaintiff had to petition a
court for the appropriate writ.
nFor example, a plaintiff who had been wrongfully dispossessed of personal property sought a writ of replevin. One seeking to collect money owed brought an action in debt. However, if the debt was based on a sealed contract, one brought an action of covenant. An action of trespass was filed to recover damages in cases
of torts. Failure to seek the proper
writ was fatal to a plaintiff’s
nTo the average plaintiff, the writ system was bewildering. This meant that plaintiffs had to rely on experts in litigation, which gave rise to the legal profession.