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consistory courts

consistory courts. After the Norman Conquest, separate ecclesiastical courts were set up to deal with pleas ‘which belonged to the government of souls’. The consistory court was the court of a bishop for his diocese and was the normal forum for deciding serious cases of defamation and matters relating to wills of personal property. Where the consistory court found the defendant guilty of defamation it could impose penance. The church courts were not allowed to impose fines and where they required the defendant to pay back money as restitution they incurred the hostility of the common law courts and were subject to prohibition. The consistory court was normally presided over by the chancellor, a layman, and appeal lay from its decision to the court of the archbishop.

Maureen Mulholland

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