NPS 009

Concerning stolen goods

The holy Travancus said: Whenever there is an innocent buyer of stolen goods: the holy tribunal shall in each case determine what would be most just, in the totality of the circumstances, whether to return the stolen goods to the original owner or allow them to remain with the innocent buyer. In one case, some thing of sentimental value is stolen, while the innocent buyer has no such sentiments: return it to the original owner. In another case, some lumber is stolen, and the innocent buyer used it to build a house: allow the innocent buyer to keep it. There is no universal rule here to be followed, but on every occasion, we must pay careful attention to the circumstances of the individual case, in some cases ruling one way, in others the other. But whoever in this ruling receives not the goods, shall receive the compensation for the same: from the holy Cause in its assumption of the place, from the holy establishment wherever the place be not yet assumed. But only one who belongs to the establishment is entitled to anything there-from. Now this is the law of heaven, and whenever the law of the usurpers have deviated there-from, it is on account of the wickedness of their hearts. And if the thief be caught, then if they have the means of paying compensation, they shall pay that into the holy treasury; and if anyone who having received their due from the holy treasury, seeks to have the thief separately compensate them, is guilty of a misdeed, and whatever they receive from the thief, even through any usurpational power, they owe unto the holy treasury.

And the holy Travancus said: Whenever under any agreement, be it a loan or contract of employment or contract of sale or any other matter, and where one party in error pays the other more than they are meant to pay according to the agreement, the following rules shall apply whenever one party is substantially stronger than the other, which is to say, they greatly exceed the other in wealth and power; but when the agreement is between equals or near equals, these rules shall not be applied. Now if the weaker party is overpaid, and realises this and tries to bring the matter to the attention of the stronger party or their agents or servants or representatives, yet despite this the stronger party does not cease the overpayment or cease recovery within a reasonable time of the overpaid amount, then the stronger party is absolutely precluded from later claiming that such an error exists; if further instalments are due, they may return to the agreed amount, but the weaker party has no obligation to repay the stronger party anything that has already been paid. And when the weaker party is ignorant of the overpayment, then they are only obliged to repay the stronger party, if they have not relied on this overpayment in any way, such as through purchasing food and eating it, or purchasing wine and drinking it, or purchasing clothes and wearing them, or repaying their debts, or even if they have lost it through gambling, or if they have bought a dog and become attached to it, or if they have bought a book and begun to read it; but if they have kept the additional payment, they may be brought to repay that. And the stronger party is absolutely prohibited from reducing any future payments due to the weaker party to recover this overpayment. If the stronger party has overpaid through any negligence or improper care, whether of themselves or of their agent, and the weaker party does not realise this, then the stronger party has wronged the weaker party through their ineptitude; it would be wrong that the weaker party suffer in any way thereby. But if the weaker party has made an innocent error, their ineptitude shall not be held against them to the same degree, for being weaker, we would not expect them to be so adept; and the stronger party is without doubt guilty of a greater ineptitude, for they did not realise the error of the weaker party, or failed to bring it immediately to the attention of the weaker party. If the weaker party has overpaid, the full amount is due back to them immediately; but if they have underpaid, and the stronger party did not immediately recognize the error, then they are only obliged to pay what else is owing in accordance with the above principles; and any amount they are thereby owing they shall only be required to repay as they are reasonably able to, over such time as it may reasonably take them, and shall not be charged any interest. The stronger party is liable for its errors, even where their error was believing the law to be such, when the tribunal later rules it is not, even if the best of counsellors counselled them that the law was as such.

Now the holy Travancus said: Whenever there is a substantial question, of grave import, concerning who did what or did not do so, it must be referred to the lords of inquiry; I will permit not the lords of restriction, neither the holy tribunal, to consider it. But any lesser question of fact, which arises in the work of the holy tribunal or the lords of restriction, they may determine for themselves, without any such referral. Now they each may judge for themselves whether such referral be necessary; but if they judge not, if any party to the case disagrees, it may approach the lords of inquiry, who shall give their ruling on that question, of whether a referral be required.

And the holy Travancus said: Whoever goes before the tribunal or the lords of inquiry or the lords of restriction, in any matter in which they have an interest, is entitled to the assistance of a skilled advocate; and if they cannot afford one, one shall be provided for them out of the holy treasury. And in any case between stronger and weaker party, the stronger party will pay the costs both of their own case and also all the reasonable costs of that of the weaker party, regardless of who has victory in the case, unless the case of the weaker party was so manifestly unfounded that no reasonable person could have brought it.

And in any case between stronger and weaker party, the weaker party will be entitled to spend as much in their own case as the stronger party does in theirs, provided that the expenditure is reasonably connected to their case, and if they cannot afford the same, the stronger party must pay; and if it fails to pay, the holy treasury will pay, and the stronger party will then be indebted to the holy treasury.

And in any case before the lords of restriction or the lords of inquiry, anyone who is accused of doing any wrongful deed, or of failing to do any deed they ought to have done, is entitled to an advocate, and to have paid out of the holy treasury, all reasonable costs of their case.

And if any advocate charges any fee, and it not be recoverable from the stronger party or from the holy treasury on the grounds that it is unreasonable, then the client thereof is not due to pay that fee either, unless it was incurred by the advocate engaging in some activity at the request of their client in spite of their strenuous advice to the same that so doing is unreasonable.

And in case of any agreement between weaker and stronger party, any ambiguities will be resolved in favour of the weaker party, unless absurd be the result of so doing. For we must assume that the stronger party is more skilled in drafting, being able to afford far better counsellors, and that if any ambiguities remain, they ought be to their detriment rather than that of the weaker party.

And the holy Travancus said: Deviate not in any wise from this legislation which I have presented unto you, for it is the law of heaven, which none may change, and if any of the law of the usurpers be contrary thereto, that law be utterly invalid, being the creation of wicked hearts.

And the holy Travancus said: If any rule of law, being applied in any particular case, produces a conclusion which is utterly absurd and repugnant, that rule may be disregarded in that case to the extent necessary to avoid or mitigate that conclusion; but this does not justify disregarding the rule in any other particular case in which such conclusion does not in fact result.

And the holy Travancus said: Take not any animal unsacred as mascot or totem. [ZWM note: There is a single word here, which has no direct translation into English, but I feel the phrase “mascot or totem” best expresses the sense of it, although even that with less than perfect precision; we should not suppose, that any concept of “mascot” or “totem” which may exist in our culture, or in any other particular culture, exactly corresponds to the concept to which Travancus refers; nevertheless, it is close enough.]