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Haro! Haro! Haro! À l’aide, mon Prince, on me fait tort.

Author: Christopher Green

As Grey Beard in Residence at Darnell Law Group it often falls upon me, during my occasional forays into the office to annoy the staff, to instruct the junior members of our chambers about some of the lesser known tricks of the trade.

And so it came to pass that I recently joined a lively discussion around the water cooler about the legal remedies available to those  poor embattled farmers on the Sumas prairie who had been told that their farms were to be sacrificed for the common good, to build a honking great levy to keep the flood waters at bay.

Although cooler heads appear to have prevailed for the moment, for a time it looked like the bulldozers were going to roll within hours, pushing whole farms into a great  muddy wall, leaving the owners with scarcely the time to pack a bag. Now, fast moving legal crises pose a real problem for the courts, who are more accustomed to moving at the speed of a glacier, so the nimble young legal minds around the water cooler were hard pressed to find a practical solution – could one bring on an emergency injunction application? who would the proper parties be? how could they be quickly served? and what court could we use – the shiny new Abbotsford court being accessible only by canoe- all very cogent and practical concerns, but of no use at all to a waterlogged farmer standing knee deep in water and trying to fend off a giant earth mover advancing relentlessly across flooded fields towards him.

So once again, it was Grey Beard to the rescue! The answer, I explained, is simple, straightforward, and immediate. It is the Clameur de Haro, an ancient form of self -help injunction that  became part of our law with William the Conqueror, and which remains good law today(at least in Guernsey, Jersey and Sark, being invoked there as recently as 2018)

Now, as with all things legal, procedure is everything, so our soggy farmer needs to pay close attention, do the correct incantations, in the correct order, and in the correct language, and the farm is saved – miss a step, and the bulldozers keep rolling.

Step one is to invoke the Clameur- the farmer ( hereinafter the “Criant”) must fall to his  knees and,

a) in the presence of two witnesses, and

b) in the presence of the wrong-doer (in this case, the poor bewildered army reservist driving the dozer)


a. raise his arm  (either arm will do apparently, but surely one’s sword arm would be best )

b. invoke the Clameur by calling out loudly ” Haro! Haro! Haro! À l’aide, mon Prince, on me fait tort.”

c. immediately recite the Lord’s Prayer – in french

d. for  Clameurs raised in Guernsey only, then recite a grace,(probably not necessary on the Sumas Prairie, but you can never over-do legal procedure, so I would throw in a grace for good measure)

Upon hearing the cry of “Haro, Haro, Haro–” the wrong doer is required to cease and desist immediately, for a period of 24 hours, during which time the Clameur must be perfected by the Criant, by filing a written complaint with the nearest court.

So there you have it, I explained to the enthralled water cooler crowd- a simple, elegant solution- the farm is saved – what could possibly go wrong?

(Its amazing what they don’t teach them at law school these days!)