WAGER OF LAW, Eng. law. When an action of debt is brought against a man upon
a simple contract, and the defendant pleads nil debit, and concludes his
plea with this formula, "And this he is ready to defend against him the said
A B and his suit, as the court of our lord the king here shall consider,"
&c., he is said to wage his law. He is then required to swear he owes the
plaintiff nothing, and bring eleven compurgators who will swear they believe
him. This mode of trial, is trial by wager of law.
2. The wager of law could only be had in actions of debt on simple contract, and actions of detinue; in consequence of this right of the defendant, now actions on simple contracts are brought in assumpsit, and instead of bridging detinue, trover has been substituted.
3. If ever wager of law had any existence in the United States, it is now completely abolished. 8 Wheat. 642. Vide Steph. on Plead. 124, 250, and notes, xxxix.; Co. Entr. 119; Mod. Entr. 179; Lilly's Entr. 467; 3 Ch it. Pl. 497; 13 Vin. Ab. 58; Bac. Ab. h.t.; Dane's Ab. Index, h.t. For the origin of this form of trial, vide Steph. on Pl. notes xxxix; Co. Litt. 294, 5 3 Bl. Com. 341.