Guernsey law / Recht der Kanalinseln

On and around the British Isles (a geographical term), there are six jurisdictions: England and Wales; Scotland; Northern Ireland; Ireland; Isle of Man; Channel Isles. (The Channel Isles are not actually geographically part of the British Isles, nor are they part of the UK). Or is there more than one system on the Channel Isles?

In an earlier entry I mentioned Guernsey law. Now Céline’s guest blogger on Naked Translations, Xavier Kreiss, whose mother is a Guernseywoman, talks about Guernsey and gives a list of resources about the patois, and he also mentions Guernsey law:

bq. But the area where the local patois – or at least, Norman French – is strongest today may be the legal field. Norman case-law is still in force, though it has undergone quite a few changes throughout the centuries. Channel islanders wishing to join the local bar have to study Norman law (droit coutumier normand) in Caen. And every islander is entitled to ask the protection of the Queen, if he asks in the right language. If an islander feels that his property rights are being infringed (if, for instance, his neighbour is bulding a wall or fence that encroaches on his own garden), he can call a few witnesses, fall to his kneees, and cry “Haro, haro, haro! A l’aide mon prince, on me fait tort” (help me, my prince, I am being wronged). Once the “clameur” – a direct appeal to the sovereign – has been “raised”, all work (on the wall, for instance) must cease. And everyone goes to court.

There is also a link to a site giving precise instructions for raising the clameur de haro, while at the same time disclaiming all liability for accuracy. Apparently you follow up the ‘Haro!’ with the Lord’s prayer in French, and the wrongdoer has to be in earshot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.