12 HARVARD LAW REVIEW.
given, and the reader will notice the striking resemblance between its phraseology and the later count in assumpsit. The defendant was to answer for that he, for a certain sum to be paid to him by the plaintiff, undertook to buy a manor of one J. B. for the plaintifif ; but that he, by collusion between himself and one M. N., contriving cunningly to defraud the plaintifif, disclosed the latter's evidence, and falsely and fraudulently became of counsel with M. N., and bought the manor for M. N., to the damage of the plaintiff. All the judges agreed that the count was good. Babington, C.J. : " If he dis- covers his counsel, and becomes of counsel for another, now that is a deceit, for which I shall have an action on my case." Cotes- more, J. : ** I say, that matter lying wholly in covenant may by matter ex post facto be converted into deceit. . . . When he becomes of counsel for another, that is a deceit, and changes all that was before only covenant, for which deceit he shall have an action on his case." ^
The act of the defendant did not affect, it is true, the person or physical property of the plaintiff. Still, it was hardly an exten- sion of the familiar principle of misfeasance to regard the betrayal of the plaintiff's secrets as a tortious invasion of his rights. But the judges encountered a real difficulty in applying that principle to a case that came before the Exchequer Chamber a few years later.2 It was a bill of deceit in the King's Bench, the plaintiff counting that he bargained with the defendant to buy of him cer- tain land for £,\QO in hand paid, but that the defendant had en- feoffed another of the land, and so deceived him. The promise not being binding of itself, how could the enfeoffment of a stranger be a tortious infringement of any right of the plaintiff ? What was the distinction, it was urged, between this case and those of pure nonfeasance, in which confessedly there was no remedy t So far as the plaintiff was concerned, as Ayscoghe, J., said, " it was all one case whether the defendant made a feoffment to a stranger or kept the land in his own hands." He and Fortescue, J., accord- ingly thought the count bad. A majority of the judges, however, were in favor of the action. But the case was adjourned. Thirty- five years later (1476), the validity of the action in a similar case was impliedly recognized.* In 1487 Townsend, J., and Brian, C.J., agreed that a traverse of the feoffment to the stranger was a good
1 Y. B. II H. VI. 18, pi. 10, 24, pi. I, 55, pi. 26. See also Y. B. 20 H. VI 25, pL 11. 8 Y. B. 20 H. VI. 34, pi. 4. 8 Y. B. 16 Ed. IV. 9, pi. 7.