Legal Quote of the Week: Clameur de Haro

Haro! Haro! Haro! A l'aide, mon Prince, on me fait tort.

(Hear me! Hear me! Hear me! Come to my aid, my Prince, for someone does me wrong.)

-Legal formula for the Clameur de Haro, an ancient legal injunction of restraint still in use in parts of the Channel Islands.

As a companion piece to our post on the use of companies domiciled in the island of Guernsey (a Crown Dependency of the British Crown), we present this unique feature of law in Guernsey and its neighboring islands.

The Channel Islands, located in the English Channel off the northwest coast of France, are the last remaining outposts of the Duchy of Normandy. They have a unique and storied history far too complex to be detailed here.  At times they have been Viking strongholds, prizes in endless medieval wars between England and France, Nazi-occupied territory, and most recently, havens for corporate domicile. One of the Channel Islands, Sark, is the last feudal state in Europe, being governed by a seigneur (lord) who holds the island as the nominee of the Queen (or, as applicable, King) of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

One unique surviving feature of medieval law in the Channel Islands is the Clameur de Haro, an injunction of restraint that can be exercised by any person, usually in matters involving land disputes.  Wikipedia describes the procedure thus:

The procedure is performed on one's knees before at least two witnesses, in the presence of the wrong-doer, and in the location of the offence. The "Criant" with his hand in the air must call out —

Haro! Haro! Haro! A l'aide, mon Prince, on me fait tort.
(Hear me! Hear me! Hear me! Come to my aid, my Prince, for someone does me wrong.)

Following this, the Criant must recite the Lord's Prayer in French.

Notre Père qui est aux cieux. Ton nom soit sanctifié. Ton règne vienne. Ta volonté soit faite sur la terre comme au ciel. Donne-nous aujourd'hui notre pain quotidien. Et nous pardonne nos offenses, comme nous pardonnons à ceux qui nous ont offensés. Et ne nous induis point en tentation, mais délivre-nous du mal.

On hearing this, the alleged wrong-doer must cease his challenged activities until the matter is adjudicated in court. Failure to stop will lead to the imposition of a fine, whether they were in the right or not. If the Criant is found to have called Haro without a valid reason,he in turn must pay a penalty.

The Clameur in Guernsey requires that a Grace be said after the Lord's Prayer:

La Grâce de Notre Seigneur Jésus Christ, la dilection de Dieu et la sanctification de Saint Esprit soit avec nous tous éternellement. Amen.

Furthermore, the grievance must be put in writing and lodged at the Greffier [the royal clerk of records] within 24 hours.

The Clameur was perhaps most famously used by a landowner named Asselin FitzArthur to object to the burial of William the Conqueror.  Asselin maintained that the church in which the king was to be buried had been built on land unlawfully seized from his family.  He testified that  "the ground upon which you are standing was the site of my father's dwelling. This man, for whom you ask our prayers, took it by force from my parent; by violence he seized, by violence he retained it; and, contrary to all law and justice, he built upon it this church, where we are assembled. Publicly, therefore, in the sight of God and man, do I claim my inheritance, and protest against the body of the plunderer being covered with my turf."[1]

[1] Turner, Dawson, Account of a Tour in Normandy, Vol. 2. London: John and Arthur Arch, 1820; see also Ordericus Vitalis, The Ecclesiastical History of England and Normandy, Vol. 2.  London, Henry G. Bohn, 1853.