October 1272

Any burgess who suffers distraint or arrest in a foreign place, [i.e. elsewhere than Yarmouth] in order to make payment [of a debt] due from [one of] his neighbours, may recover his losses and damages from that neighbour. If the neighbour lacks the means to make reparations, he shall be put out of the community until able to make them; if afterwards he is discovered conducting mercantile activities in the town, he is to be imprisoned until he settles [with the injured party].

[This ordinance refers to a common practice, such as occurred in cases of withernam: if a merchant of Town-A, while visiting Town-B, incurred debts to a burgess of Town-B, but failed to pay them, the burgess of Town-B could seek payment through distraint upon the goods of any burgess of Town-A who happened to be in Town-B – this being a concept inferred from the notion of community. If unjust by modern standards, this was a pragmatic solution to the problem that the Town-A merchant (if no longer in Town-B) could not be obliged to come to Town-B's court to answer in a plea of debt, while had it been possible to bring the case before Town-A's court, the defendant might receive favouritism from the judges. Consequently retribution was from one of the debtor's "neighbours" (i.e. fellow-citizens), thereby in effect making him the surrogate of the creditor in seeking repayment of the debt in the court of Town-A, where a case between two members of the same community would receive more equitable treatment. The reference to being put out of the community probably means disfranchisement rather than exile.]