We’ve all seen the dramas, times when people are insulted by another person or they’ve had some disagreement over actions someone has done. In modern days, this normally involves a few choice words and maybe a small brawl outside, but these can even end up in court, with people claiming financial revenge for their actions. One that is very rarely used, but is seen a lot on TV is trial by combat, but the tradition is all but dead.
Trial by combat was originally created in germanic law, with two people fighting in single combat, the winner being proven right in the eyes of the law and the witnesses. The tradition died off as legal systems relied more on facts and evidence, with it rarely ever invoked because of the “barbaric” nature of it.
Back in 2002, Leon Humphreys challenged the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) to trial by combat. His original charge was to pay a £25 motoring fine for not informing the DVLA about his motorcycle being off the road. The magistrates saw this as a waste of time though and fined him £200 with another £100 in costs; it didn’t quite work out for him.
In 2015, this came before the Staten Island Supreme Court when a layer cited the right in the case where he is being accused of helping a client commit fraud. Richard Luthmann states that trial by combat was never outlawed in New York state or even the United states. Luthmann, a Game of Thrones fan, stated that “They want to be absurd about what they’re trying to do, then I’ll give them back ridiculousness in kind”.
So while an old tradition, you never know who would invoke the right to single combat in order to defend their actions in the eyes of the law and their makers. Something work keeping in mind next time you’re stuck with an odd fine, just be ready to fight if they agree!