All civilizations have a set of rules that govern what is allowable, whether it be a large code and volume of laws, or traditional morals and social mores, Botany Bay is no different.
As a small colony, the Bay addresses the Law in general terms, with much fewer specific codes and regulations than large systems, or multi system governments. Those specific codes or laws that do exist, such as the weapons carry regulations, are to address issues specific to the colony’s location and circumstances.
When a law is broken, or to adjudicate disputes between parties, the colony utilizes a tribunal system. A tribunal can be convened by any party that has a seat at the council table; however, tribunals held by the Colony Administration itself have applet authority and serve as the final legal venue outside of a Trial of Refusal.
The colony utilizes several means to obtain compliance, or punish offenders.
Minor disputes are often adjudicated on the spot by colony deputies, though often these are appealed to a council tribunal. Tribunals are short affairs, usually overseen by one to three council members. Parties plead their case and present evidence and witnesses. Tribunal members then deliberate in private and return with a ruling. Sometimes, at the request of the injured parties and with the tribunal’s consent, a jury of peers is used to adjudicate the ruling. Utilization of a jury is at the discretion of the tribunal. A council tribunal can be appealed to the administration, in the form an Admin tribunal. Admin tribunals are convened by the colony administrator and senior members of the council. The administration retains the right to hear a case on appeal.
Colony law is designed to prevent anarchy and provide property rights in order to promote commerce. If the colony became so chaotic and lawless that commerce could not transpire, then traffic and revenue would dry up. At the same time, if law and order became over bearing, and intrusive, it would also drive away the traffic and commerce that keeps the colony thriving. As such, the Sherriff and deputies of the station, and the system of law they enforce becomes a tricky balancing act. Generally, one person’s rights end, where another person’s rights begin. This can change with the situation, as determined by the tribunal.
There is no presumption of innocence, or rights to remain silent. What people say can and will be used against them. However, the property rights do demand a reasonable search. Besides those at port authority and the scanning of incoming vessels for harmful or explosive material or conditions, the Administration’s security forces are expected to use restraint and have probable cause for searches and scans of colonists and visitors.
Trial By CombatEdit
In the rough and tumble sprit of the rim and deep black, there is a physical aspect to the law, in the form of trials. Trial by combat is a custom and tradition from many cultures and worlds, and there are aspects. Instead of a tribunal, adjunction of disputes between two parties may be decided via trial by combat. Both parties must agree on the trial. Aggrieved parties retain the right to name a champion to fight for them by proxy.
When the dispute is between two warriors the Trial is often referred to as a Trial of Grievance: Also called an "Honor Duel". A "Circle of Equals", consisting of a ring of warriors defines the boundaries of the combat. The two warriors involved determine through bidding how the battle will be fought. The first warrior to leave or be knocked from the circle or knocked out or otherwise unable to continue is declared the loser, and the disagreement is forgotten. This can be an on-the-spot resolution, or may have to be arranged through the Council or Administration.
Tribunal rulings can be appealed though combat as well in a Trial of Refusal. This trial allows the losing side to demand the issue to be settled by combat.
The forces used in the Trial of Refusal are determined on a pro-rated basis. The faction rejecting the decision declares what forces they will use. The side defending the decision (the attacker) can field a force equal to the ratio of winning to losing votes. For example, if the contested vote carried by a three-to-one margin, the attacking forces can field a force three times the size of the force challenging the decision.
The preferred means of compliance and adjudication of wrongs are hefty fines. It has been found that hefty fines are a persuasive deterrent to the traders and merchants that pass though the station, and cut into the profit they count on to survive. The amount of the fine often varies with the ability of the offender to pay, and the offense itself; the greater the offender’s ability to pay, and the greater the offense, the greater the fine. This sliding fee scale makes fines an effect tool regardless of how many credits the offender has to toss at the problem. Fines can include the confiscation of property such as slaves or starships.
In Cases where fines are not an appropriate, the colony turns to a system of penal slavery to punish offenders, or adjudicate wrongs between parties. Due to the lack of resources, penal slavery is utilized in lieu of a state run prison. Colonies such as Botany Bay can simply not afford to house unproductive prisoners for long periods of time. Penal slaves can serve in a variety of capacities determined by their offense, skill set, and attitude. The worst offenders are sent to work in the mines or mining refinery. Penal slaves can be remanded to custody of the colony administration, the offended party, or a third party such as New Nippon mining, depending on the circumstance and the tribunals ruling. Penal slaves are treated based on their behavior, in accordance with the established slave laws.
Situations which may warrant penal slavery include:
Capital Crimes such as Murder
Lack of ability to pay fines
In conjunction with fines and penal enslavement, a tribunal can also banish offenders from the colony. Often this is utilized for repeat offenders. Banishment can be permanent or temporary, again, depending on the offenses and tribunals ruling. Banishment is particularly effective against businesses that rely on the colony’s location to conduct trade.
The colony is equipped with several jail cells, and overflow could be handled by the cells in the slave market. Generally imprisonment is short term, used only while other means of punishment or adjudication can be determined by tribunal. The Jail cells are also used for protective custody, or for temporary holding of dangerous persons until such time they can be rendered safe, or deported from the colony. Many individuals have found themselves tossed in the cell overnight, to cool down after a brawl, awaiting their fine and release.