Someone Does Me Wrong!

In the U.S., if you come home and you find your neighbor about to bulldoze your prize tulips because he thinks they’re on his side of the property line, your only (legal) recourse for stopping him is to find an attorney and have him or her run to the courthouse and get a temporary restraining order, and then, before the TRO runs out, get in front of a judge with a complaint and a motion for a preliminary injunction, and then go to trial with a request for a permanent injunction.

If only things were as simple as they are on the island of SarkAs I mentioned in a post a few days ago, Sark is one of the Channel Islands and a British Crown dependency.  It is also the last feudal state in Europe.  They have a tradition dating back to the Middle Ages called clameur de haro in Sercquiais, the language of the island, which is descended from Norman French.

There, if you saw your neighbor bulldozing your tulips, all you would have to do is fall on your knees and yell, “Haro, haro, haro! À mon aide, mon Prince, on me fait tort!” which means, “To my aid, my Prince, someone does me wrong!”  I’m not sure about the haro part.  You neighbor would have to immediately stop until the matter could be sorted out in court.  There are conflicting accounts about the last time it was actually used.  If only it worked here.

Incidentally, there are many, many aspects of the Norman French legal system still around today.  In English, a tort is a civil wrong for which a person may be sued.

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