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Haro, goodbye... Ancient property plea fails

Haro, goodbye... Ancient property plea fails

Wednesday 03 March 2021

Haro, goodbye... Ancient property plea fails


A woman who raised the Clameur de Haro – an ancient form of injunction with its roots in Jersey’s Norman past – did so unlawfully, the Royal Court has judged.

Caroline Powell performed the ritual last Thursday in front of two Viscount's Officers in the driveway of a house in St Brelade, after they had handed her a letter giving her 15 days to vacate the property.

Their authority to do this was based on a Royal Court judgment in November, which removed any final rights Mrs Powell had to the property after a lengthy legal process, which included insolvency proceedings.

Having raised the Clameur – by getting down on one knee in front of two witnesses, clasping her hands and calling out: “Haro! Haro! Haro! À 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) – Mrs Powell brought about an immediate injunction which must be then quickly assessed by the Royal Court.

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Pictured: The Royal Court came to its conclusion this afternoon.

On Tuesday’s hearing, Advocate Marcus Pallot, acting for the owners of the property, Mr and Mrs Sheppard, said that the Viscount's Officers were following an order of the Royal Court, made on 27 November, to evict Mrs Powell.

"My client's objection to the injunction is based on a simple and single point and in making it, I am not seeking to diminish the human aspects and emotion in this case," he said. "The officers were handing over a warning letter, informing Mrs Powell that officers would return in 15 days to enforce the order."

Mrs Powell, however, argued that the November eviction order, made without her being present that day, was “not a proper one as the Court was duped into making it by false evidence.” 

She also argued that the dégrèvement process, which had led to her losing the ownership of the house to creditors, was “barbaric and unjust” and incompatible with human rights. 

Previous court judgements, she said, had been “unfair and misleading” and the Court had been wrong to refuse to extend a ‘remise de biens’ – an order it had granted giving Mrs Powell time to sell the house to pay her creditors – for a second time in 2018.

According to the Court’s judgment then, although disputed by Mrs Powell, this was because she had failed to cooperate with the Jurats overseeing the order and had refused to allow potential buyers to view the property.

In giving the Court’s reason to reject the Clameur de Haro, Deputy Bailiff Robert MacRae, who was sitting with Jurats Ronge and Dulake, said: “Last Thursday, the Clameur de Haro was raised or purported to be raised by Mrs Powell at property she occupied in St Brelade.

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Pictured: The Royal Court issued a fine of £100.

“This must be dealt with as quickly as possible because, unlike a usual application for interim injunction when a Court considers its merits, the Clameur has immediate effect, as long as the formal requirements are met.

“It is a self-help remedy and although ancient is a useful one and a significant feature of our customary law.

“Mrs Powell put forward her arguments with clarity and skill, saying that there had been a long history of injustice. However, all judgments have stood, and none have been successfully appealed.   

“This was Viscount’s Officer putting into effect a lawful order of court so the injunction must be discharged.”

The Court also prohibited Mrs Powell or anyone else living in the property from raising the Clameur de Haro again in relation to this dispute and fined her a nominal £100, which it has the power to do so for a wrongful raising.

The origins of the Clameur de Haro, which is also law in Guernsey, are unclear but 'Haro' could be a contraction of 'Ha! Rou!' so refer to a direct appeal to the Norman king Rollo, the Viking founder of the Norman dynasty in 911, who was renowned for his strict integrity and justice.

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