Adventures on Tellene - Tales from Svimohzia
In a land ruled by a sole monarch, the source of all legal authority originates from the ruler of the land. The crown is always the final authority on all legal matters within the realm. It is possible, however, that there is some legal authority given over to the masses that limits the power of the king, an example is the Magna Carta in England. This occurs only in nations with strong nobility and weak (or non-existent) monarchs, such as in Zazahni, O’Par or Dodera. The more powerful monarchies such as Kalamar, Eldor or Tharggy have rulers that wield absolute and supreme power.
As commerce became increasingly common across Tellene, the new merchant class found it necessary to create a more just court system that could handle complex cases involving economic and contractual disputes. Towns began to supply magistrates and judges for the sole purpose of resolving these disputes. Eventually, a whole legal forum was born. These courts became known as the Courts of Equity. They provided the type of specialized legal expertise required where trade and commerce had overtaken crime as the major source of legal dispute. Kings eventually adopted the Courts of Equity, as they appeared to be an unlimited source of revenue for the crown.
A king, even if he wanted to, cannot make all the rulings alone, so he appoints sheriffs (generally the local lord), justices and magistrates to pass judgment on wrongdoers and tortfeasors. Typically suits brought in the Court of Equity are by appointment and are decided at an informal hearing before a local magistrate. Important cases, determined by who and how much money is involved, or appeals from magistrates are brought before one or more justices and are adjudicated at a formal hearing or trial. Appeals from tried cases are brought before a panel
of justices. Second appeals are brought before the local sheriff himself, if he chooses to grant an audience. Appeals from a lord’s ruling go directly to the sovereign. Obviously, this only occurs in extremely rare cases such as those involving a great deal of money, powerful merchants or disputes between nobility.