What were the court costs in Jarndyce?
May 29, 2006 2:33 PM   Subscribe

What were the court costs in Jarndyce? (Spoilers inside if you aren't familiar with Bleak House.)

We just watched the (excellent) Masterpiece Theatre miniseries based on Dickens' Bleak House, and when it was all over my wife asked me: "How could the entire Jarndyce estate have been eaten up by court costs? Didn't people pay their own costs?" And when I thought about it, I had no answer. For instance, Richard Carstone (one of the parties with expectations from the estate) spends all his money on the proceedings (and borrows more); his efforts don't drain the estate, as far as I can see, and why should they? Why should the estate pay for people's litigation? I thought the relevant chapter in the novel might help, but it merely refers to "the numerous difficulties, contingencies, masterly fictions, and forms of procedure in this great cause."
posted by languagehat to Writing & Language (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: See Michael Lobban's explanation (paragraph 11 and ff. in particular).
posted by thomas j wise at 3:11 PM on May 29, 2006

Response by poster: Wow, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Nineteenth-Century Court of Chancery! Much obliged, milady.
posted by languagehat at 3:21 PM on May 29, 2006

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