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That the judgment of a court having competent jurisdiction is, while unreversed, conclusive upon parties and privies, and estops them from litigating a fact once passed upon, is a maxim of both the civil and the common law. The maxim equally applied to actions respecting the title to real estate and to those respecting personal property. When, however, the action of ejectment was substituted for real actions, it was found that, owing to an ingenious legal fiction, a recovery in ejectment constituted no bar to a second, or to any number of similar actions for the same premises. By the fiction of a lease, entry and ouster, and the recovery of a fictitious term of years, the same issue could be tried between the same parties, as the record would exhibit an entirely different issue and between different parties. In this way it was possible for a party in possession with both a legal and equitable title to be annoyed by continued litigation, which sometimes resulted in ruin. In order to suppress this vexatious and oppressive litigation, courts of equity finally interposed, and allowed what is known as a "bill of peace" to be filed, which sought to procure a repose from any farther litigation of the title to the property.

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