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Field Code of New York

The first code of CIVIL PROCEDURE that established simplified rules for PLEADING an action before a court, which was proposed by DAVID DUDLEY FIELD in 1848 for the state of New York and enacted by the state legislature.

The Field Code served as the prototype for other states in codifying and revising the rules of civil practice in their respective courts. Prior to the code, no uniform rules existed for the commencement of an action. Each common-law form of action and each EQUITY action had its own rigid procedural requirements to be satisfied and the language of such pleadings was highly formalized and verbose. A plaintiff's allegation rarely was stated in simple, clear language.

The Field Code was a radical departure from the procedures of the past. As a result of its merger of law and equity actions into one action, the code provided a uniform set of rules of pleading to be used in each type of case. The pleadings were to be in simple, concise language that set forth only the facts of the dispute between the two parties.

This clarification of procedure was a significant factor in bringing about a more efficient system of justice. Within twenty-five years of the enactment of the Field Code, about one-half of the states enacted comparable codes. The Field Code was also influential in ENGLISH LAW, its principles drafted into the JUDICATURE ACTS of 1873 and 1875.

The term CODE PLEADING is derived from the Field Code, although code pleading can refer to compliance with the requirements of either a legislative enactment or a rule of the court.

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