in Crime, Law and Society in the Later Middle Ages
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Initiating litigation could be regarded as a preliminary stage in the arbitration process; and could be threatened or continued if the parties were unable or unwilling to agree to terms. The extracts in this chapter examine the extra-judicial forms employed in the later Middle Ages, namely negotiation, mediation and arbitration. This chapter acts as a corrective to the traditional preoccupation with formal legal proceedings. Arbitration involved the surrender of negotiating and adjudicating powers to a panel of arbiters and/or an impartial umpire. Arbitration's procedures bear the imprint of legal practice, while legal thought frequently influenced deliberations. Litigants recognised the benefit of utilising both law courts and arbitrament. Undoubtedly a key resource employed by all levels of society, mediation and arbitration constituted a significant response to the breakdown in social relations in potentially providing for amicable and non-confrontational approaches.


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