Doctors' Commons

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Doctors' Commons, also called the College of Civilians, was a society of lawyers practising civil law in London. Like the Inns of Court of the common lawyers, the society had buildings with rooms where its members lived and worked and a big library. Court proceedings of the civil law courts were also held in Doctors' Commons.

The "civil law" in England

While the English Common Law, unlike the legal systems on the European continent, developed mostly independently from Roman Law, some specialised English courts applied the Roman based civil law. This is true of the ecclesiastical courts, whose practice even after the English Reformation continued to be based on the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church, but also of the admiralty courts. The advocates practising in these courts were trained in Canon law (before the Reformation) and Roman law at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The civilian legal profession was split like its common law counterpart. The advocates had a role similar to that of barristers in the common law courts. The proctors, who were also associated with Doctors' Commons, can be compared to common law solicitors.

According to some accounts, the society of Doctors' Commons was formed in 1511 by Richard Bodewell, Dean of the Arches. According to others, it existed already in the 15th century. The society's buildings, which were acquired in 1567, were originally situated near St. Paul's Cathedral at......
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