Wager of law


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(Law) the giving of gage, or sureties, by a defendant in an action of debt, that at a certain day assigned he would take a law, or oath, in open court, that he did not owe the debt, and at the same time bring with him eleven neighbors (called compurgators), who should avow upon their oaths that they believed in their consciences that he spoke the truth.

See also: wager

References in periodicals archive ?
The writ of debt implied a wager of law, involving oath-taking, but at a time of commercial expansion that witnessed the depersonalization of markets, personal honor and religious fear became less reliable than the commitment by the political authorities to legally enforce contracts to guarantee well-functioning markets.
The carter's repeated but fractured pledges echo the late medieval practice of "wager of law" or "compurgation," which provided one avenue for resolving promissory, contractual, or other conflicts in both civil and ecclesiastical court.(24) When a plaintiff brought a grievance against a defendant, the defendant controverted the plaintiff's charge by swearing an oath denying the allegation.
If the promiser never intended to perform, failure to perform tells the truth about his intention."(31) Civil law solved the dilemma of evaluating intent by judging actions rather than intention, and oath making, whether in wager of law or another form, established a criterion for judging intent.