Fontan (Realm)/Judiciary/Trials/Lord Rory -v- Fontan
1008 -- 15th August -- Lord Rory McColl -v- Democracy of Fontan
That on the 11th Day of this Month Lord Mikhail Romanov acting in his capacity as Chancellor of Fontan appointed Dame Leane Tse Tung as steward of Bruck, enjoying the privileges and title of Countess of Bruck, in contravention of the pre-existing feudal contract and right at law of Lord Rory McColl to restoration of his pre-existing entitlements.
Motion for Mistrial
A motion for mistrial was presented by the defendant based upon the immunity of the executive from interference in its actions.
Further it is alleged that because one law is held to apply that is favourable to the defendant that another equally applicable law be set aside in this case.
The motion for mistrial is rejected. Were the court to accept this motion it would place the Chancellery beyond the reach of the Rule of Law which this court is sworn to uphold.
Points of Law
- Fontan is a Democracy and as such all Sovereignty derives from the will of the nobility as expressed through lawful election. The four great offices of state are each invested with a portion of that Sovereignty in accordance with their allotted competence and no one branch of government has the right to curtail the competence of another. There is a distinct and absolute separation of powers.
- The Judiciary is invested with the Sovereign Power and Absolute Duty to investigate potential breaches of the Law, regardless of the identity of the parties involved, and to make a ruling based upon the evidence presented, prior precedent, accepted custom and written statute. Only the Judiciary is competent in this regard.
- The Supreme Justice is elected to uphold and enforce the Law by the nobility of Fontan.
- Fontanese Law abjures Tyranny. All must be bound by its provisions and all are equal in its estimation. Anything which seeks to set one person or institution higher in its estimation is thus unlawful.
- Where more than one law is applicable to a given case it is the Sovereign Prerogative of the Judiciary to weigh the details of the case and determine which, if either, law carries the greater obligation.
That Lord Mikhail acting with executive authority as Chancellor of Fontan imposed a steward upon the County of Bruck due to the physical incapacity of Lord Rory at that time. It is further claimed that the Chancellor has an unlimited executive power in this regard so long as newly conquered region is perceived to be at risk of loss to an enemy power or to local insurrection.
Summary of the Case
Lord Rory was elected Count of Bruck by the nobility of Fontan and by accepting this appointment entered into a binding Feudal Contract with the Realm and her representatives. He would render service, both in maintenance of the region and in whatever competence he possessed, whilst the Realm and her representatives would defend his rights.
Seventeen days ago the County of Bruck came under the occupation of Perdan following a military conquest. Through force majeure they imposed a new government and drove the previous administration into hiding. This state of affairs persisted until four days ago when a liberating force arrived and the people of Bruck declared themselves wholeheartedly in favour of their previous Lord's existing rights.
The very same de jure rights that by referendum the nobility of Fontan established as binding for one full month following their de facto loss in these circumstances. In the eyes of the Law Lord Rory never ceased to be Count of Bruck during this period.
At the time the local administration declared in favour of Fontan Count Rory was in fine health and serving with the Lions. This is regarded by many as the most honourable service one can render to the Realm and is a clear indication that he was as good as the oath he swore as Count of Bruck to render service to the Realm. A binding Feudal Contract was in place, and no act of breach had occurred.
Later that day Count Rory was in action with the Lions, helping to force the Confederate occupation force from Negev. Here he was wounded in battle. At the same time this was happening Lord Mikhail appointed Dame Leane Tse Tung as the Countess of Bruck to act as steward in his stead.
Upon his recovery Count Rory felt that having kept his side of the Feudal Contract - namely risking his life in battle for Fontan - that such an act made a mockery of his rights under the law, whilst for his part Chancellor Mikhail expressed his belief that not to have installed a steward would have been to leave the region at risk of imminent threat.
In the latter he felt justified by a law passed by referendum entitling the Chancellor to act in this manner at his discretion.
Unfortunately no record of the text of either of these laws is extant - or if it is it has not been presented to this court despite repeated requests - and therefore it is for this court to try and make sense of the conflicting interests.
Points of Law
- A Feudal Compact exists between the Realm and Count Rory, established by election and confirmed by appointment. This Feudal Contract presupposes that the junior party will render service in exchange for rights whilst the senior party will protect those rights from all who would infringe them, the junior party being Count Rory and the senior the Realm of Fontan and her Elected Representatives.
- This Feudal Compact required Count Rory to render service to the Realm and to maintain the County of Bruck in good order, likewise it required the Chancellery and all other Representatives of the Realm to respect Count Rory's entitlements so long as he was not in breach of his duty.
- In Feudal Law when a region is lost to a foreign power or to local insurrection the incumbent loses all legal title and upon the recapture or pacification of the region a fresh appointment will select a new feudal overlord, in Fontan traditionally by election.
- The Feudal Compact and responsibilities attendant to it do not come into force until this lord is then appointed, nor is the claim it generates enforceable if there is already an incumbent.
- The Realm recently passed by referendum a law which in effect extended the Feudal Compact for a period of one month beyond the date of the loss of a region to conquest by a foreign power. It is accepted that this law is binding although none have been able to find a copy of the actual referendum.
- Therefore Lord Rory is the de jure Count of Bruck so long as he upheld his side of the Feudal Compact throughout the period when Bruck was in enemy hands and until the one month cut-off point should occur.
- This court has no powers to set aside a Feudal Compact and can only rule in its favour as it is a fundamental axiom.
- Bruck was held by Perdan for thirteen days, less than the specified one month, and so this court has no choice but to recognise Count Rory's Feudal Overlordship of the region.
- A second law exists which states that if the Chancellor considers a newly captured region to be at imminent risk he may appoint a Steward until such time as the rightful Feudal Lord can be reinstated.
- However the Chancellor also stands during his period of appointment as Feudal Overlord of Fontan and as such is bound by the Feudal Contracts into which the realm has entered, regardless of other considerations.
- The latter is a fundamental obligation, ingrained in the very nature of the Feudal Compact. When an oath is given it cannot be lightly set aside for convenience, no matter the price paid by the parties concerned, nor can they be set in abeyance pending some arbitrary condition imposed by the senior party without consultation. Only a breach of trust or dereliction of duty are sufficient grounds for dissolution, and in this case Count Rory is guilty of neither.
- At the time Bruck was welcomed back into our arms by the will of its own people, Lord Rory was in good health and fit to resume his duties as Count. It is true that he was not in the region, being a serving officer in the Lions, but that is not a limit on his de jure rights and he clearly was not in breach of his Feudal Compact.
In studying these points I am driven by two key goals. One is to uphold the law passed by the nobility of Fontan by referendum which extends Feudal Rights in the very specific instance of a region being lost to a foreign power. This Law leads to a reasonable expectation that a Lord will be reinstated in a timely manner, that their rights and obligations will remain, and that they will be free to seek redress should they feel that they have been ill-used.
But at the same time there is a law which allows a Chancellor to install a Steward to govern regions in immediate risk of loss and to do so in a timely manner.
These two laws are in conflict in this case as Chancellor Mikhail exercises our Honour on the one hand and our Prudence on the other. In choosing to install a Steward he opted for Prudence and efficiency, but as the representative Feudal Overlord of Fontan it is her Honour which is entrusted to him more than any other quality.
I therefore uphold the complaint. Lord Rory is the de jure Count of Bruck and any attempt to deny him his entitlements is in contravention of the best interests of the realm, specifically the Honour and Integrity of her government.
Count Rory, you called for one of two possible resolutions to this matter: combat to the death or payment of ereic, the honour price.
The law strictly prohibits two nobles of Fontan from duelling during wartime and that request is denied. As a man who values his honour highly - as do all members of the Lions - I know you will abide by this ruling.
On the matter of an honour price, the Realm is ordered to pay you 25 gold in restitution for the slights you have suffered. I cannot force the Chancellery to make this restitution and so it will be paid by the Judiciary, with an equivalent fine levied against Lord Mikhail.
Likewise it is also to pay rent on your property equivalent to one third the production of Bruck until such time as the region is restored to you, or until you cede your claim whichever occurs first. As the Steward of Bruck Lady Leane is responsible for making these payments.
I also set aside the results of the election in Bruck as you are already the de jure incumbent and were recognised as such by all parties several days ago.