Guernsey

Attempt to use Guernsey feudal law denied

Bougourd family
Image caption The Bougourd family's attempt to use a feudal law was denied

A couple's attempt to use a feudal law to delay a Royal Court hearing has been denied by Guernsey's Deputy Bailiff.

Richard Collas refused to register a Clameur de Haro, which legend says was a plea to Rollo who is known as the first Duke of Normandy.

Andy and Hege Bougourd are involved in a dispute with planners over the size of the house they built in St Andrew.

Facing eviction by the bank that lent them money for the build, they hoped invoking the law would halt the action.

Mr Bougourd said the Deputy Bailiff had refused the clameur as the bank was not doing anything wrong, but that he and his wife would continue to fight the case, which goes before the Royal Court on Friday.

Raising a clameur

The clameur is raised by the reciting in Norman French of "Haro! Haro! Haro! A l'aide, mon Prince, on me fait tort", a call of help or alarm followed by "Come to my aid, my Prince, for someone does me wrong" and then the Lord's Prayer in norman french.

Whoever calls the clameur then has to have it registered in court within 24 hours, but whoever it is called against has to stop all work as soon as it is called.

The law dates back to the 10th Century as a form of self-policing, as there was no law enforcement.

Advocate St John Robilliard said: "They don't happen very often today. I think for two reasons, firstly where you can raise it is far more limited than the instances it appears in history and secondly very often injunctions are sort from the court, because when you raise the clameur it is like an injunction, which you do before you go to court.

"Usually today if you wish to stop somebody doing something to your land you'd go to court to get an injunction.

"In Ancient Norman times it would be used not simply to protect your land, but to protect any sort of property rights and indeed in criminal law matters, if someone was attacking you or your property you would raise it."

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