Differences Between a Circuit Court and a Chancery Court

By Monica Baylor
It is important to know about the different courts.

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The United States has many different courts to hear cases. Knowing the difference between Chancery Court and circuit court will give you the information needed to file your claim in the right court. Chancery Court was an element of English law that was brought to the United States. When North Carolina became a state, the Chancery system was incorporated into the Constitution. A circuit court is the highest trial court with general jurisdiction. Chancery is separate from circuit courts, whose origins are in common law

Chancery Court

Chancery means "that which is naturally right." Another name for Chancery is equity. A court of equity has jurisdiction in cases where an adequate remedy cannot be had in common law courts. Chancery courts are responsible for dealing with many different types of legal actions. The actions include fraud, specific performance contracts, cancellation of written contracts, reformation, dissolution of partnerships, such as divorce, controlling or overseeing a disabled person's assets, redemption of land, construction as well as enforcing wills and trusts. The Chancellor of the Court not only uses the laws but also the notions of what is right and how to fix a situation in his rulings.

Circuit Court

Circuit courts deal with different types of disputes. As part of the federal court system, the circuit court is the highest court in the general jurisdiction before the court of appeals. The disputes in its jurisdiction include domestic cases, workers' compensation claims, contract disputes, civil cases, condemnations and the administration of estates. All civil cases over $15,000 are handled by the circuit court. Cases from $4,500 to $15,000 have shared jurisdiction between the circuit court and the general district court. The circuit court has authority to hear criminal felony and family law cases. Cases appealed from the general district, juvenile and general domestic district court all go to the circuit court. A jury is provided for circuit court criminal trials.

Background Infromation

After Chancery courts came into law, Tennessee, which was originally a part of North Carolina, became a state. Eventually, Congress made Tennessee laws the same as those in North Carolina. Tennessee fully recognizes the Chancery Court. However, the state of Tennessee has modernized and simplified the Chancery system. U.S. bankruptcy courts are federal courts of equity. The states of Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey and South Carolina also have courts of equity.

About the Author

Based in San Diego County, Calif., Monica Baylor has been writing since 1995. Her articles have appeared in the “Southwestern Sun” newspaper and The NU Herald online newspaper. Baylor holds Bachelor of Arts in digital journalism from National University.

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