The Hikitsuke was established by fifth shikken Hojo Tokiyori in 1249 to expedite an increasing number of lawsuits. Hikitsuke had three, later, five tribunals, and each tribunal was operated by four or five Hikitsukeshū (引付衆 adjusters), whose top was called Tōnin (頭人), and four or five Bugyōnin (奉行人 secretaries).
The Hikitsuke's power increased gradually. At first the Hikitsuke just drafted several verdicts after hearings and submitted them to the Hyojoshu. Submitting only one verdict per lawsuit, the Hikitsuke later became a de facto full law court. It originally processed only conflicts of the vassals of the shogunate, but later treated more generall cases.
Although it aimed at accelerating trials and making them fair, the Hikitsuke tended to make rough-and-ready decisions in the late Kamakura period. The Hikitsukeshu were mostly occupied by the Hojo clan. In addition, the Hikitsukeshu and Hyojoshu lost effective power to the yoriai, which was held at tokuso's residence.
The Muromachi shogunate took over the system of Hikitsuke, but it lost its substantial meaning after Ashikaga Tadayoshi died, who controlled the Hikitsuke.