Writ of debt

WRIT OF DEBT, practice. A writ which lies where the party claims the recovery of a debt, i. e. a liquidated or certain sum of money alleged to be due to him. This is debt in the debet, which is the principal and only common form. There is another species mentioned in the books, called the debt in the detinet, which lies for the specific recovery of goods, under a contract to deliver them. 1 Chit. Pl. 101.

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Slade's case was a milestone in the formation of the modern common law of contract, since it allowed plaintiffs to sue parties who had reneged on their contracts on the basis of "assumpsit" and not only on the basis of the writ of debt. 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.
If I were to express any reservation about Bailey's thesis, it would be in relation to a certain lack of clarity with respect to her claims about the decision in Slade's Case (1602), whereby action on the case for nonfeasance replaced the old writ of debt as a remedy for parole agreements.