Declaratory Judgment A Needed Procedural Reform

EDWIN M. BORCHARD, Yale Law School


The maintenance of the social equilibrium is accomplished by the state through the administration of justice. This is the modern substitute for the primitive practice of self-help. While the dawn of civilization reveals but crude notions of judicial institutions, one of the first manifestations of organized society was the creation of machinery for voluntary arbitration as an optional private vengeance and self-help, the acknowledged methods of insuring respect for the societal rules. But the decisions of the first judges who were merely arbitrators had only a moral force; and if the complaining litigant was dissatisfied with the award, he could still resort to self-help. For its own protection against the resulting anarchy and violence, organized society, having acquired the power, took upon itself the monopoly of administering justice through established courts. But though this evolution is one of centuries, the fundamental theory still prevails that the redress of wrongs is the raison d'etre both of violent self-help and of its more civilized substitute, the courts; and the notion of vengeance, while rejected by modern schools, is still evident in the penalties imposed in the administration of criminal justice and in their tempered and better adjusted substitute, damages, awarded in the administration of civil justice.