Reactivation of the Court of Chivalry Avoided

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Chris Green
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Reactivation of the Court of Chivalry Avoided

Postby Chris Green » 13 Jan 2019, 06:51

https://www.kentonline.co.uk/medway/news/crest-dispute-heading-for-ancient-court-196620/?fbclid=IwAR3eM1q_kM9Wpnhwh0j5jDKEqbVYRJRw-F0DCDHqSnDFsZ0-B7Uokfxcb_g

In a way it's a shame that Medway People's Voice didn't persist in using the Medway coat of arms. It would have been a salutary lesson had the Court of Chivalry been reactivated (after 67 years) and found MPV guilty.
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Arthur Radburn
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Re: Reactivation of the Court of Chivalry Avoided

Postby Arthur Radburn » 13 Jan 2019, 13:46

Nice idea, but a salutary lesson in what, though? Not necessarily that usurpation of arms is punishable in a court of law. The standing of the Court itself may be called into question, given that it has not been brought up to date as advised by the Lord Chief Justice after the 1954 Manchester test case.
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Re: Reactivation of the Court of Chivalry Avoided

Postby Martin Goldstraw » 16 Jan 2019, 14:34

Whilst this case is similar to the Court's last sitting in the Manchester case, in his judgement (Manchester Corporation v Manchester Palace of Varieties [1955] P 133) Lord Goddard suggested that:
“if this court is to sit again it should be convened only where there is some really substantial reason for the exercise of its jurisdiction.”

This was, I feel, a shot across the bows delivered by the learned Lord who, in my humble opinion, was of the view that the "Manchester case" was contrived and a waste of time.

In 1970, Arundel Herald Extraordinary advised Wolfson College, Oxford (who were considering whether to invoke a controversial University privilege in order to avoid paying for a grant of arms) that the effect of Lord Goddard’s dictum “must make any further sitting of the court unlikely even for a cause of instance; and the revival of causes of office, which were obsolescent even in the seventeenth century, would be more difficult still.”

The fact that the College of Arms is either unable or unwilling to act at all was reinforced when in 1984, Garter King of Arms declined to ask the Court [of Chivalry] to rule against the assumption of unauthorised arms by a local authority, doubting whether the precedents would give jurisdiction (A New Dictionary of Heraldry (1987) Stephen Friar p 63).

It'll never happen.
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Chris Green
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Re: Reactivation of the Court of Chivalry Avoided

Postby Chris Green » 16 Jan 2019, 14:57

For we aficionados of heraldry the de facto demise of the Court of Chivalry must raise mixed feelings. On the one hand we are angered by blatant misuse/appropriation of arms, which is after all a form of identity theft, a crime which is much in the news these days. On the other we are (mostly) sympathetic to the assumption of genuinely heraldic arms, which in most of the world is perfectly legal. In those where there still exists a functioning heraldic authority assumption is understandable since the difference between those who would be entitled to a grant of arms and those who would not is usually no more than the possession of the requisite financial resources and (perhaps) one's education/achievements/vocation.

As an advocate of law and order I prefer the Lord Lyon's continued application of his judicial/administrative powers to the College of Arms' failure to do so, which I suppose dates back as far as the 16th/17th century, if truth be told.
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Re: Reactivation of the Court of Chivalry Avoided

Postby Martin Goldstraw » 16 Jan 2019, 15:56

Chris Green wrote:As an advocate of law and order I prefer the Lord Lyon's continued application of his judicial/administrative powers to the College of Arms' failure to do so, which I suppose dates back as far as the 16th/17th century, if truth be told.


Whilst I tend to agree, I am of the view that it is pointless having a so called law if there is no one willing or able to enforce it. In this, I am reminded of a local issue where the Local Authority, in order to attempt to prevent parking chaos outside our local school, went to the trouble of enacting local laws to place a single yellow line on the road, which, in UK traffic laws, means that anyone parking on these yellow lines during the hours set down on the relevant signage, is committing an offence however, everyone knows that the police will not enforce traffic regulations, there are no Traffic Wardens and the Local Authority does not have the necessary enforcement powers. The result of this is that those parents or guardians who have a moral conscience no longer park on the road and have now made way for those who don't have a moral conscience; the parking problem has not been solved but those who don't give a toss for any unenforceable regulations now find it easier to find a parking place reserved for them on the yellow lines!

The College of Arms continues to assert that it has yellow lines but as they don't intend to do anything about those who ignore them, the yellow lines may as well not exist; without enforcement, the so called laws of arms are pointless and no matter how many times the College protests that those who assume arms have no authority to do so and their arms are unauthorised, their protests are somewhat meaningless. As for the usurpation of arms, I recall reading an article in the Coat of Arms written by a barrister at law some years ago giving suggestions as to how usurpation might be remedied in the common law courts now that the Court of Chivalry was impotent; sadly, I can't remember any of the details and I can't be bothered to trawl through back copies (though I might find the time if ever my armorial identity was compromised).
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Re: Reactivation of the Court of Chivalry Avoided

Postby Jeremy Fox » 16 Jan 2019, 16:39

"those who don't give a toss for any unenforceable regulations now find it easier to find a parking place reserved for them on the yellow lines!"
As Lord Bowen may have said a long while ago, "The rain it raineth on the just and also on the unjust fella; but more upon the just because the unjust hath the just's umbrella."


As one who assumed arms 60 years ago, and whose spare cash has never caught up with the College of Heralds' fees, I am happy to hear that my amoral identity is unlikely ever to be challenged.

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Re: Reactivation of the Court of Chivalry Avoided

Postby Martin Goldstraw » 16 Jan 2019, 17:06

I have found the article I referred to above (or at least I think it is the one I had in mind!).

It is titled The Court of Chivalry by G.H. Gilbert and it was in The Coat of Arms N.S. Volume XIV no 197 Spring 2002.

Here is an edited extract (I have omitted those references to remedies for businesses):

"Obsolescence means going out of use, in course of disappearance. This morning, I telephoned the University of Central England law department and discovered that they had never heard of the Court of Chivalry."

"On holiday in Bognor Regis you notice that your coat of arms were printed on the hotel stationary and a magnificent painting of your achievement was displayed in the receptionist's office. What can you do?

If you discover your arms are being used by some other people then you can take the following steps. Approach the person involved, (with caution, they may turn nasty or abusive). Explain that they are using your arms and they must stop immediately. If they refuse then telephone the local County Court and ask them to supply you with the forms required to initiate a prohibitory injunction. Write to the person using your arms and tell them that you are taking legal action, keep a copy of the letter which you send by recorded delivery. Complete the court forms, if you have any difficulty the courts are very helpful, that is their job to help you. A summons will be issued and a hearing date given. When you attend take with you your letters patent and witness statements in support. On the form it is important to ask for costs, include telephone calls and time taken to initiate the proceedings. Also ask for damages, you may wish to tell the judge that you leave the amount to the court's decision.

The cost of a prohibitive injunction is usually £120 [2002 costs] so make sure you put this in your claim for costs. It saves all this if you can get the person using your arms to stop doing so and telling him you are taking proceedings will help concentrate his mind to "settle out of court". Get a written statement from the person using your arms that he has agreed to cease since it is not unknown that he may continue in the future.

It involves identifying those that abuse and flout the laws of arms, not easy but we should be aware of our rights and that we are surrounded by the many who do not respect the laws.

The Court of Chivalry has already established that it is not lawful to use another's arms and it is now in case law.

If there was no Court of Chivalry who would be disadvantaged? No one!."
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Re: Reactivation of the Court of Chivalry Avoided

Postby Chris Green » 16 Jan 2019, 17:17

A useful guide Martin. Thank you.
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