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Legal history: England & common law tradition: Forest law

Subjects: History - British, Law

After life?

Forest law

Generally used to designate the legal regime following the Norman conquest (or at least from temp Henry I 1100): "... the subjection of ... vast tracts of forest land to an alien and oppressive "forest law" protecting the royal hunt" ...[ Baker, Introduction to English Legal History (4th edn 2002), 12]

It raised considerable problems of rights of ownership: for example, it was possible to be the legal owner of land within the designated area of a forest, and yet not be able to "harvest" its produce, either by hunting wild game or felling timber.

Already such a source of grievance to be the subject of clauses in the first attempt to limit the royal power of King John, by 1217 had become the subject of a separate Charter (of the Forest). The arrival of this shorter charter was what lead to the Magna Carta being so called.

The forest law was maintained by specific officers (such as wardens, verderers, and foresters) and with two principal courts hearing charges of breach of the laws, the courts of attachment and the forest eyres.

SOLO subject searches to try

Forestry law and legislation -- England 
Game-laws -- England 
Hunting -- England 

 

Royal forests

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