Connaissance du droit

A French term, translated literally as: "knowledge of (one's) right;" in the English language, approximates the meaning of the phrase, "the common law," but perhaps more precisely, "the law, or custom, that is commonly held, or widely understood, to prevail in instances such as this.”

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Source: Tomlins, Thomas Edlyne, and Thomas Colpitts Granger.  The Law-Dictionary, Explaining the Rise, Progress, and Present State of the British Law. Vol. I. London: Printed for J. and W.T. Clarke; &c. &c., 1835. (pg 24.)

  What, in law French as called a fine [sur cognizance de droit, come ceo que il ad de son done;' or, a fine upon acknowledgment of the right of the cognizee, as that which he hath of the gift of the cognizor. This was the best and surest kind of fine, for thereby the deforciant, in order to keep his covenant with the plaintiff, of conveying to him the lands in question, and at the same time to avoid the formality of an actual feoffment and livery, acknowledged in court a former feoffment or gift in possession, to have been made by him to the plaintiff. This fine was therefore said to be a feoffment of record; the livery, thus acknowledged in court, being equivalent to an actual livery: so that this assurance was rather a confession of former conveyance, than a conveyance thus originally made; for the deforciant, or cognizor, acknowledged the right to be in the plaintiff, or cognizee, as that which he had de son done of the proper gift of himself, the cognizor.

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Source: American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language. Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Hosted online by The Free Dictionary, (accessed 2019-01-01).

Cognizee: One to whom a fine of land was acknowledged.

Cognizor: One who acknowledged the gift of the plaintiff or cognizee ina fine; the defendant.

Deforciant: One who keeps out of possession the rightful owner of an estate.

Fee: (i) In feudal law, an estate in land granted by a lord to his vassal on condition of homage and service. (ii) The land so held.

Feoffment: The transfer of a fee.

Livery: Official delivery of property, especially land, to a new owner.

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"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."—Lesley Poles Hartley (1895–1972), The Go-Between (1953).

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