0 - Clan Amir: About Berant and Story List
Copyright 2007 by Ernest Bywater as Ernest Edwards
The Amir (pronounced a-mear) Clan has ruled Berant since the sixth century AD / CE. For over a thousand years they’re the premier clan in the Amiri tribe (pronounced a-mear-e) and the largest clan in the country. The crown goes to the eldest male of the senior Amir line, usually the King’s eldest son, unless an Amir Clan Council rules that person ineligible, which is a very rare event. If the King has no sons it then goes to his eldest living nephew. If no living males can be found from the descendants of the last three generations the same process is applied to the King’s daughters, nieces, and cousins with their husband becoming the new King. This process then goes back another generation at a time until one can be found, or all of the descendants for the last ten generations are known to be dead.
Berant becomes a French Colony in the late eighteenth century by an agreement with the King who wants to avoid a losing war. Spears and arrows aren’t much good against firearms and cannon. The King sees this so he negotiates the best result he can get for his people. The country is hardly affected by this as they have no publicly known natural resources of any value. Nothing that’s worth the effort of an organised removal. The country is untouched in the Great War (later known as World War One), and the Japanese occupation in the Second World War is little more than a minor inconvenience for most of the people. The French are asked to not return after the Japanese and Allies go while leaving behind them enough modern weapons to keep the French out of the country. The French don’t see Berant as worth the cost of conquering it in the mid-twentieth century. The same is true for the neighbouring countries of Dareed and Shukra. Dareed and Shukra did have some natural resources worth taking, but most of those resources were removed by the French prior to the Second World War, and what’s left isn’t worth fighting for.
The ruler of Berant from 1922 to January 1st, 1946, was King Marshad, a wastrel. His father thought it a good idea to send him to Europe for his education in the hopes this would let Marshad fit in better with the French Colonial Government and to be able to deal with the French a lot better than he, the current King, does. However, schooling in Paris from ten years of age has Marshad attending school there at the start of the twentieth century. Instead of learning how to work hard he learns how to party hard and to enjoy life to its fullest. He’s only interested in having fun. The country is lucky his younger brothers are trained at home under the tribal laws, so they do the real running and administration of the country.
The only good thing that can be said about King Marshad is he was a lot better than the Rebel Generals who killed him in January, 1946, to introduce a ‘democratic’ government of the type that never has a public vote. The difference between them is marginal, but Marshad didn’t arbitrarily kill people in large groups. No formal laws were ever passed by the Rebels.
When the Generals attacked the Palace the Princes fought a fierce battle with the Rebels to cover the escape of four Princesses: the King’s two daughters and his two nieces, the daughters of the Princes. The Princes, their sons, and all of the Palace Guard gave their lives for their country’s future. Proving the country still had warriors who were prepared to stand up and fight for what they believed in was the right thing to do.
When King Edward comes to power in December, 1948, he changes the way the monarchy works, and he creates a constitutional monarchy. This is difficult because much of the country is under tribal law and the people want the old monarchy as they were unhappy with democracy as introduced by the Rebels. Also, large sections of the country no longer have formal tribal councils because the tribal councils had been totally destroyed by the Rebels’ pogroms. King Edward needs something acceptable to both areas. Using the Australian Constitution as a base, because he’s familiar with it, he creates a hybrid variant to make both groups happy while he introduces a high level of elected democratic government for the domestic management while maintaining the International affairs as a Royal responsibility. When voted on the Constitution receives ninety-nine percent support of the population. After getting the Constitution through he sets about creating a uniform set of laws for the whole country. The process isn’t complete, and it never will be due to the continued existence of some of the Tribal Councils wishing to maintain some aspects of their Tribal Culture. It takes sixty years for most of the laws to be ninety-nine percent uniform across the country.
Later there’s a summary of the government and legal systems after King Edward’s reforms are put into place. This isn’t a detailed list of all of the laws, although some very important ones are mentioned, but it is an analysis of the system itself. Many people see this as a perfect constitutional monarchy while others don’t. This Constitution works for Berant and its people, and that’s the best you can say for any political or governmental system.
Selection of the Monarch
The head of government is the King. Under the new Constitution the King is the husband of one of the King’s daughters or nieces or cousins. If need be the line tracks back one generation at a time until a suitable candidate is found. The Amir Clan Council decides which of the suitable candidates is to be the King. When possible the King selects a suitable heir whilst still alive, and he helps to train them for the role. This way there’s no point in intra-family squabbles as a male born to the Royal Family can never rule, while their brothers-in-law have to worry about being voted in by the eligible clan members because only blood members of the clan have a vote.
After King Edward the King has no control of any money or assets of the clan or his own. King Edward introduced the change but he couldn’t make it retroactive. King Herbert is the first King the new Royal property laws apply to. Any property or assets he has must be handed back to his family or handed over to the clan trust when he’s appointed. This way the clan has a control over the King by simply refusing to finance his actions. Also, the Clan Council can recall him by a unanimous vote.
In Berant there are some very ancient and important swords. They’re so old their creation is more legend than history. One was forged for the King and the others were part of a set where one was forged for each major clan.
The ‘Sound of Battle’ can only be worn by the King or a member of the Royal Family. It makes a ringing sound like a bell when struck against another sword in battle or against something solid. One use is to strike it three times to call all of the clans to war as a group in support of the King.
The other is the ‘Clan Honour Sword’ and it’s inscribed with the clan’s motto with one for each clan at that time.
Berant is an old kingdom in tropical Asia where the mountains are tropical jungle or dense tropical forest. The majority of forest trees are exotic hardwoods while the jungle is mostly softwoods. The jungles, forests, and plains abound with local wildlife, most of it is small and harmless. Apart from humans the only dangerous animals in Berant are the local mountain lions who live in the tropical jungle very close to the tops of the mountain ridges, most are in the Burran and Amir Mountains. Attacks by lions are very rare, but they do occur; usually when people wander into the lions’ hunting ranges and they don’t take proper precautions to avoid the lions.
The western border is the centre ridge tops of the Burran mountains. This high mountain range is the western border of the Kingdoms of Shukra, Berant, and most of Dareed; with the lower quarter of Dareed being a peninsula. The almost straight ocean shoreline forms the eastern border of these countries. Most of the shoreline is high sheer cliffs with many nice bays and beaches along it. Berant’s southern border is the Darunch Mountains with Dareed south of the mountains. The northern border is the Sharten Mountains with Shukra north of Berant. In land area Dareed is almost the size of Berant and Shukra is about the same size as Berant.
Berant is like an out of shape hour glass because it pinches in on the western side. The narrowest point is at the Amir Mountains where the country is only one hundred and sixty kilometres wide, and twenty kilometres of that are the mountainous tropical jungle of the Burran Mountains. The Amir Mountains run from there to the coast to make an effective barrier that almost splits the country in half.
Northern Berant consists of the Sharten Plain running from the Sharten Mountains to the Berant River. This area is a rough rectangle of three hundred and twenty kilometres across (east - west) and four hundred and eighty kilometres deep (north - south). The Amiri Plain runs four hundred kilometres south from the river to the Amir Mountains. Southern Berant consists of the Kotar Plain running six hundred and forty kilometres from the Amir Mountains to the Darunch Mountains with the Kotar river splitting this almost in half to create the Northern Kotar Plain and the Southern Kotar Plain. This plain widens out from one hundred and sixty kilometres at the Amir Mountains to three hundred kilometres at the Darunch Mountains. Dareed is seven hundred and twenty kilometres long from the Darunch Mountains to the peninsula tip. It’s from two hundred and eighty to three hundred kilometres wide until the peninsula, which is one hundred and twenty kilometres wide for most of its one hundred kilometres of length. Shukra is much more of a rectangle of three hundred kilometres across (east - west) and nine hundred and sixty kilometres deep (north - south) with the Shuk Mountains as its Northern border. The assimilation of Dareed into Berant after the Battle at Marley’s Landing was a very significant increase in the size of Berant’s land area and population.
There are many known passes across the Sharten, Amir, Darunch, and Shuk Mountains, and these are all marked on good maps. There are no known passes across the Burran Mountains, or if they’re known they’re well kept secrets of the family or clan or tribe. Rumours of hidden passes have been around for over a thousand years, but none have been found by the authorities or reported to them.
The capital city, Berana, is sited on the southern side of the Berant River and is virtually the centre of the original old kingdom that consisted of the Sharten and Amiri plains. The Kotar Plains became part of Berant a thousand years ago. King Edward set the Parliamentary Government up in Berana since it was almost the centre of the country at that time, and he made the old Royal Palace a national museum and culture centre. He established his own palace, Highcliff, between the coastal towns of View Port and Carmel about sixteen kilometres north of the Amir Mountains, almost at the opposite end of the Amiri Plain to the Parliament.
Carmel is a holiday and tourist resort established by King Edward. He also built a major marina between Carmel and View Port to attract International visitors and money. The administrative domestic government is at Berana while the main government with International affairs is at Highcliff. With the King now living in the middle of his tribal lands and safely surrounded by loyal members of his tribe and clan it’ll be a lot harder for another group of Rebels to kill the King. This arrangement also makes it harder for any national disaster to take out the whole governmental structure. Also, being near the main tourist resorts allows them to use the Palace and monarchy as a tourist attraction. This works well because it brings in many tourist dollars from people wanting to see a monarchy in action.
Over the centuries Berant has used three financial systems. Prior to the French colonisation all transactions were by a form of barter where goods or services were exchanged on an immediate basis or over a time period. People gave their word and they honoured it. Promises were kept. If a person was unable to meet a promise their family, clan, or tribe did it for them and collected off them later; in blood if need be. This was because an individuals actions also reflected on the honour of the person’s kin and tribe.
The French administration brought French Francs, the concepts of accounts, credit, bookkeeping, record keeping, bureaucracy, and corruption. The crime rate soared. The Berant people weren’t angels, but theft, rape, and murder were next to non-existent as tribal laws had ways to handle them. Raiding between tribes was a common thing, but once you got out of a tribe’s lands with anything you stole it was a successful raid and the goods were yours. This meant the people were raiding (i.e. stealing) from other tribes and not within their tribe. Rape and murder had some very severe punishments that made death the easy option. The French colonists taught the tribes how to steal from their families, clans, and tribes through overcharging, not meeting debts, and asking for bribes. The honest people of the tribes learned all about corruption from the French Colonial bureaucrats. Most of the tribal members remained honest, but not all of the tribal members were honest in all of their dealings after that.
After the French were refused permission to return following the Second World War King Marshad introduced a new monetary system by calling them dollars and cents to differentiate them from the French Francs. They had to make new notes and coins, so they did a whole new system with new designs. There was very little organised International trade until the mid 1960s, so external monetary matters were of no interest and had very little effect on Berant. By the time they did the trade was very evenly balanced. All this time individuals were involved in local and International trade using the traditional barter processes. People near the borders traded goods with people from over the border and cash wasn’t used much at all, until the last third of the twentieth century AD / CE. For the little International trade conducted overseas foreign currencies were used.
There are four main sources of revenue collected for the running of the government at all levels.
Customs Excise collected by Customs Officers are used only by the King for funding his areas of authority.
Sales Tax is collected by the Parliament and Tribal Councils of the area where the sale takes place, the relevant authorities collect it and spend it on the areas of their responsibility. This is the only form of revenue the Tribal Councils can count on receiving. Sales Tax rates are Constitutional Laws and are the same across the country.
Income Taxes are levied on all corporate businesses and are collected by Parliament for funding their areas of responsibility. The Parliament is the only government body to collect Income Tax, despite it also applying to businesses in Tribal Lands. This is used to fund the police services, the Berant Army, and a few other nationwide services they also provide in the Tribal Lands by agreement with the Tribal Councils. Individuals, owner operated businesses, and partnerships are not subject to income tax. Incorporating a business allows the owners to limit their liability to the business, but it also subjects them to income tax.
To further constrain the various government authorities rates of customs duty and taxes are hard to change because these are all Constitutional Laws which the bodies can’t arbitrarily change, see Classes of Laws. Tight purse strings should keep all of the levels of government under reasonable control. This is all in the Berant Constitution. People think very hard about voting for tax increases before voting them in.
Donations are fifty percent tax deductible and can be accepted by the King, the Parliament, or the Tribal Council, but they can be used only for the task or tasks nominated by the donor. Individuals and businesses can make donations and designate what they’re to be used for. However, most donations are made by corporate businesses because they get the best tax benefits out of making donations. It doesn’t matter who the donations are made to, they’re still a deduction for the business income tax purposes. While donations are a way of giving the King or Tribal Councils additional funds while cutting down on what the business pays to the Parliament, it also means the business does pay out a lot more money with a donation than if they had simply paid the income tax because they only get a fifty percent deduction of the donation from their total taxable income value.
Fines for breaking the laws is a fifth revenue source, but because it isn’t regular it’s not seen as a true revenue source. The money from the fines goes to the relevant authority whose laws were broken. In most cases the money from the fines is added to the budget for the service responsible for administering the law broken. Also, part of the punishment for certain major crimes can include the confiscation of money and other assets of the criminals, and all confiscations go to the King for disposal and use for his areas of responsibility.
The King has overall authority in all things. However, the basic day to day running of the country is done by the Parliament and the Tribal Councils. The King has varying levels of authority on the final approval of what they do and how they do it, see Classes of Laws. The Berant Constitution acknowledges the King’s Royal authority and he voluntarily subjugates himself to the Constitution by passing many of those authorities and powers to the Constitution. The Constitution also recognises the responsibilities and restraints placed on all of the people and the other authorities by the Constitution.
The King is the head of state who has the final responsibility where he has to give final approval to all laws before they can come into effect. He may reject any proposed law. Any rejected domestic administration law may be put to the people at the next election, the King and the Parliament must abide by the outcome of the people’s vote on the law. Such a law requires another vote before it can be changed in any way as this process raises the new law to the same status as a Constitutional Law.
The King is also the very last avenue of judicial appeal for all legal matters across the country.
The King has four main bureaucracies working for him. He is responsible for providing all of the staff, facilities, equipment, regulations, laws, security, policies, and procedures for them, including salaries and pensions. The bureaucracies are:
1. The Office of International Affairs. It covers embassies and all International agreements, immigration, tourist visas, etc. It includes the Royal Customs Service which administers customs operations and the collection of excise.
2. The Royal Guards. Military services loyal to the crown, and it can’t exceed five percent of the population.
3. The Protector’s Office. This is responsible for the protection of the citizens, and it has special sub-offices. Its head is the Royal Protector when there is one, and the King when there isn’t a Royal Protector appointed by the King.
- Royal Protector - the King’s special representative who has the full authority to act in the King’s name.
- Royal Intelligence Service (RIS) - collects and analyses all domestic and foreign information: i.e. spies. This group also conducts investigations into many matters. It has some special agents appointed by the King to act with the King’s authority as needed, and they report directly to the King. The special RIS agents appointed in this manner have the special designation of Falcon and their code number.
- Child Services Office - child welfare services, they investigate claims of abuse etc., oversee orphans and similar matters; including the welfare of the mentally disadvantaged. In depth investigations are often done by the police or RIS upon a request from the CSO to conduct an investigation on their behalf.
- Slave Welfare Office - checks slaves aren’t abused or mistreated by their masters, and it administers the regulations on slaves. The police and RIS assist in investigations when requested to by the SWO.
- Citizen’s Welfare Office - investigates any reported abuses of people, the CWO usually asks RIS to conduct any investigations for them. The CWO also administers welfare payments and support services.
4. Royal Advisory. A group of advisers to the King which he selects people for as required or wanted.
The King must provide, staff, and fund his own residence as well as the Royal Reception Area which is used for official functions within his area of responsibilities. He must also provide any shortfall in operating funds for the organisations that assist him in carrying out his constitutional responsibilities and duties. Such as the Customs Service and the embassies, etc.
The Parliament draws its power and authority from the King via the Constitution. It’s responsible for the limited day to day administration and management of the domestic aspects of the country, as set out in the Constitution. It has two elected bodies: the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The House of Representatives’ members are elected every four years, one hundred members with each representing one percent of the eligible registered voters of Berant. Voting boundaries are reviewed every ten years or when there’s a major change in the country’s population or boundaries, like the adding of new lands. This house drafts the laws and actually administers them. Voting is on a weighted scale of voter priorities. The members of this house vote on who will be Prime Minister from the elected Representatives, and that person then selects a cabinet of ministers. The Prime Minister usually ends up being the leader of the majority party in the House.
The Senate has one hundred members elected to serve for eight years, fifty are elected every four years. They’re elected from a single national voting group. If a number of people register to stand together as a party then the votes for that party are split equally between all of the members of the party. No person can be appointed unless they have the support of at least one percent of the electorate. If forty-five people get ninety-six percent of the votes and the forty-sixth has only a half of one percent, then only forty-five senators are appointed at that election. This house reviews proposed laws and may reject them. Voting is on a straight one vote one point basis with no priorities. The one with the most vote points wins the election and is appointed. In the Senate this means the top fifty with the most points, as long as each person’s votes are one percent of the electorate or more.
Should an appointed person step down during their term in either house the eligible person with the next most points is appointed. This discourages whimsical or politically motivated resignations.
Parliament controls all of the lands that aren’t Royal Reserves or Tribal Lands. The Parliament controls and manages the Army, which can’t exceed eight percent of the population. It appoints the magistrates and judges for the legal system. There is a special body established to review on the eligibility of judges which also provides advice to the Tribal Councils on the suitability of the people selected to be Amur Elder (Wise Elder) of that tribe. The Amur Elder is the equivalent to the Chief Justice for their tribe.
The Berant Constitution is quite clear about the Parliament being there solely to allow the people to govern and administer internal matters. Since International affairs are nothing to do with self-administration or self-government those powers are retained by the King to limit the risks of foreign groups ‘buying’ the Parliament and giving the country away. Many professional politicians get very upset about the powers the King retains when they see the power politicians have in other countries and how their power in Berant is limited. Thus they seek ways to increase their powers by getting them from the King.
The legal system is: Magistrate’s Court, District Court (single judge, or judge and jury - as chosen by the accused), Appeals Court (panel of judges), Supreme Court (single judge), Appellant’s Supreme Court (panel of judges), the King.
Note: As required by the Constitution new lands always come under Parliamentary control, regardless of what they’d been before being assimilated by Berant.
Tribal Councils now draw their power and authority from the King via the Constitution. They’re responsible for the day to day management and administration of the domestic aspects of their tribal lands as set out in the Constitution. The Councils’ membership and appointment method are by the traditional methods used by that tribe for appointing tribal elders. These bodies make and pass laws as per their traditional methods. They may raise a militia from within their population if they wish to, but the militia can’t exceed two percent of their population, unless approved to by the King and Parliament.
The legal system is: judgment by an Elder, Chief Elder, Amur Elder, Council of Elders, the King.
Note: Prior to the Berant Constitution the power of the Tribal Council came from its members being the leaders of their clans and them representing the members of their clans. Also, the Council of Tribes had a lot more power in dealing with the King as a united group to also provide some direction as well as advice on many matters. With the loss of so many Tribal Councils during the rebellion this traditional system wasn’t viable in much of the country due to the heavy loses sustained, so it was changed to the above system so it could retain power and authority while still maintaining as many of the old ways as possible.
The Council of Tribes is an organisation where representatives from all of the Tribal Councils get together to discuss matters that concern more than one tribe. It’s a loose coordination body without any powers or responsibilities. Each tribal council has a member on it, the King and Parliament have observers only, although their input is welcomed. With the reduction of tribes to two it almost never meets after the rebellion. Most matters needing co-ordination are usually done via special meetings called by the King or the tribal Chief Elders. Matters are often sorted out by the Chief Elders visiting each other to discuss them, then they reach an agreement on the issues.
Classes of Laws
There are three classes of laws in Berant. None of the laws recognise a legal entity that isn’t a living physical person. All companies are seen as the property of their owners or the senior executive officer living in the country. Due to International politics this is later changed for some restricted situations involving International companies.
Royal Edicts are just that, a written statement by the King as to what he wants done, and it becomes law. These usually apply only to the areas that are his sole constitutional responsibility. Most relate to International affairs, customs operations, and welfare activities. If he feels the need to change a law relating to domestic aspects he confers with the Parliament and the Tribal Councils to have them pass suitable local laws on the matters he raises with them.
Constitutional Laws need the approval of over eighty percent of the members of the Parliament, over eighty percent of the Tribal Councils, over eighty percent of the eligible voters, and the King before they become valid. These affect the Constitution because they constitute part of the Berant Constitution. All laws relating to governmental revenue raising (taxes and excise), marriage, slavery, welfare, brigandage, treason, piracy, murder, and attacking a member of the Royal Family are such laws.
Note: The provision for approval by eighty percent of the Tribal Councils made sense when the Constitution was written and voted on, but within a few years it became irrelevant as there were only two Tribal Councils still in existence. Many of the Tribal Councils disbanded after the Constitution came into effect, due to the heavy losses within their tribes during the period under the control of the Rebels they felt they didn’t have enough tribal members left to properly operate as a Tribal Council.
Domestic Administration Laws, whether passed by the Parliament or a Tribal Council. These need a sixty percent approval of the administrative body, Parliament or Tribal Council, to become a proposed law. They still need to be approved by the King to be enacted. If rejected by the King they can be put to the voters at the next election, where it requires approval by over sixty percent of the eligible registered voters in the area affected by it for it to be made law. The King and the local authority must abide by the will of the public as shown in the vote. Laws decided on in this way require another vote before it can be changed in any way as this process raises the new law to the same status as a Constitutional Law.
Domestic laws include communications, military management, crimes, transport, building, education, forestry, licensing, business, hunting, weapons control, consumer, manufacturing, fishing, zoning, and the definition of adulthood, etc.
The Parliament and Tribal Councils have equal authority and power to make laws within the areas under their control. Whenever a Tribal Council wishes to pass on the actual making of an area of law to Parliament it may do so by a sixty percent vote of their council and approval of the King. Once they pass over the power to make a law they can’t take it back. In such a case the Tribal Council is still responsible for the management and administration of the law within its boundaries, unless the Tribal Council disbands or the Tribal Council makes arrangements with the Parliament for them to administer it on their behalf; the national police service is one such activity and the national fire service is another. Disbandment requires the approval of over eighty percent of eligible tribal members for the disbandment to occur. Passing over the law making responsibilities is encouraged for many common matters because it makes it easier to maintain uniform laws.
The Parliament and each Tribal Council give automatic recognition to any authority or licence issued by the others. Even if the laws they’re issued under are different.
Differences between the Parliamentary and Tribal laws are very few. The biggest differences are the laws on recognition of adulthood. The Parliament do this as an evaluation test of a person’s mental stability which is usually conducted when the person is sixteen years old, it may not be done before they’re fourteen years old. Also, they’re automatically an adult at eighteen years of age unless declared by a court as not competent; which is sometimes done for some of the intellectually challenged who then come under the control of the Protector’s Office, Child Services. The Tribal Councils have their own traditional tests of adulthood. These are usually done when the person is twelve years old, but the person may stand for them at any prior age, provided they have the support of their clan and they pass the initial skills tests. Most stand at thirteen or fourteen years of age. Thus a Tribal Council may approve an eleven year old as an adult and the Parliament authorities must recognise that status, despite them being too young by their laws. Over time the tendency is for people to just wait until they’re eighteen years old, because it’s a lot easier.
As the majority of the laws are the same across the country the Tribal Councils have an arrangement with the Parliament to provide police forces to police the tribal lands, and thus create a uniform police force and its administration. The Tribal Council retains their traditional tribal police, the Guardians, these provide support to the police and they also administer the few laws that are specific to that tribe only. In these situations the Tribal Council provides facilities for the Parliamentary agency administering the law.
Note: By 1994 all of the Tribal Councils have passed to Parliament the law making authority for all laws except those relating to the definition of adulthood, compensation, weapons, fishing, hunting, forestry, crimes, and criminal punishment. Even so, the laws on weapons, fishing, hunting, forestry, and most crimes are the same. The Tribal Councils amend them as soon as the Parliament does, they just want to retain full control of them.
The majority of the laws of Berant are very much like the laws of other countries. Legislation about how to handle commercial dealings in a manner fair to all, laws against harm to people (murder, rape, etc.), laws against harm to property (theft, damage, fraud, etc.), laws controlling interactions (libel, communications, slander, etc.), laws on safety aspects (OH & S, road rules, etc.), laws to protect the lands. However, some are a bit different because they grew up out of the local traditional practices and they aren’t common to all of the other countries, although some do have similar laws and practices. All of these laws have sound practical reasons for their existence and the way they’re worded.
Listed next are some of the more important laws that are different to most countries.
Summary of Some Laws
Taking Possession of Property
The King may confiscate the property and assets of any person found guilty of treason, brigandage, piracy, or attacking a member of the Royal Family. Under no other circumstances may any authority (the King, Parliament, or a Tribal Council) take possession of any property, except the person sells it willingly and they’re paid the full current market value for it. Property and land owned by the King is known as the Royal Reserve and includes land the King buys for use by his agencies or land that reverts to him because it’s unowned; this doesn’t include the property owned by his clan. Property and land owned by Parliament is known as Crown Land. Property and land controlled by tribes is known as Tribal Land, even when owned by clans or individuals or businesses.
Any Berant citizen who has attained adulthood is eligible to register and vote in elections for the area of their current residence, provided they’re not serving a prison sentence or serving as a slave. They may only be registered in one area at a time. A person who splits their living and work between two areas must choose which they wish to register in. Voting is voluntary.
Any person found guilty of treason, brigandage, piracy, or the murder of a Royal Family member automatically loses their right to vote. Some long term habitual criminals may have their voting rights removed by the courts or the King, but only after the due legal processes have been taken.
Criminals sentenced to prison provide a labour force under armed guard; mostly road construction and similar unskilled labour. They’re provided with reasonable food, accommodation, and clothing. Some may be offered the opportunity to convert their sentence, or what remains of it, to slavery as a domestic servant or a farm hand.
Berant has no low security prisons because suitable prisoners are allowed to convert their sentence to slavery, usually as farm hands or domestic servants. They are then released into the care of their master and they live within the general community, usually at the residence of their master.
The sentence of death by execution is only applied to a person found guilty of brigandage, piracy, treason, murder, or attacking a member of the Royal Family. The sentence must be confirmed by the King or the Royal Protector. Often such convictions are commuted to a twenty year prison sentence or slavery for twenty years.
Ten years is the maximum period a person may be sentenced to be a slave for a normal crime. Seven years is the maximum period a person may voluntarily enter into slavery for debt recovery or financial return. Slaves must be provided with reasonable standards of clothes, proper accommodation, and proper meals; as per the basic standard of living requirements. They’re also to be allowed one half day off per week, and are paid a weekly personal allowance, as set out in the Regulations for Maintaining Slaves.
Multi-spouse marriage is permitted, but only as a polygamous or polyandrous marriage where the member who is of the single gender is the main income earner of the family and the family income is higher than the basic wage as calculated in the following manner. First spouse basic wage; for additional spouses add double the basic wage for each spouse. That is, three times the basic wage for two spouses, five times the basic wage for three spouses, seven times the basic wage for four spouses, and so on. This is to ensure the family has sufficient income to properly see to the needs and welfare of all of the spouses and their children. The assets of all spouses becomes part of the family assets, unless special terms are agreed, written down, and signed by all spouses before the marriage.
This is a type of limited marriage arrangement in that neither party has a claim on the property of their partner in the event of the partner’s death or they split up. It’s recognised a concubine will live with their partner as if a spouse and all other marriage related laws apply, such as the multi-spouse marriage laws on finances. The concubine’s assets don’t mix in with the family’s assets at all. A concubine is also paid a minimum weekly personal spending allowance double that set for a slave. Being a concubine is a contractual arrangement which sets out each person’s responsibilities in a clear manner. Such contracts are often used to introduce a potential new spouse into the household for full evaluation prior to final commitment, i.e. a trial marriage arrangement. For the purposes of this law a concubine may be male or female. The contract must include terms for the care of any children conceived during the contract.
Berant laws allow for a person to have various legal states: child, adult, concubine, slave, prisoner, etc. However, they require the people to be living and existing. A dead person can’t own anything, nor can a non-living entity. Corporations with shares are unusual because the shareholders are seen as the collective owners who have shared and limited ownership and responsibility through the shares, the same way as a sole trader has a more direct ownership and responsibility.
Families, clans, and tribes can collectively own things, but the legal ownership is seen as being in the hands of the person or persons in overall charge of that body. A Clan Father is the legal owner of all the clan common property, and he manages it as such. The single gender member of a multi-spouse marriage is seen as the legal owner of all of the family’s collective property. In many cases families leave property as being owned by the individual who brought it to the family to simplify the ownership and control.
To be able to conduct business in Berant you have to be a legal entity in Berant and living in the country. If the person who provides the money lives overseas the senior person living in Berant who manages it is the person seen as the sole legal owner as far as the Berant laws are concerned. Provisions do allow for owners to have proxies in place while they’re overseas for business or holidays for up to two years in any four year period, provided no single period is not longer than one year.
As one investment adviser put it, “To be a legal entity in Berant it must be possible for someone to punch you in the eye.” In this regards foreign businesses setting up in Berant don’t retain legal ownership of property because the head of the business in Berant is seen as the legal owner of all of the company property in Berant. Most Berant laws provide for major breaches of laws committed by businesses to be punished by their owners being heavily fined and imprisoned. When the offender is a foreign owned company the Berant senior manager goes to prison while all of their personal and business property is confiscated if the sentence calls for it.
The changes in 2013 make provisions for ownership to be allowed by people outside of Berant, as long as they’re legal entities in their own country. Fines for breaches by such owners are ten times that for the local owners because a prison sentence is not always possible with the foreign owners. The changes also include restrictions on Berant citizens involved in the ownership of foreign based companies that have operations within Berant. This is to stop a Berant citizen from avoiding the Berant laws by owning a foreign company that then operates within Berant. The changes do not affect a Berant citizen from owning a Berant company that also operates overseas as long as their ownership is in line with the usual Berant ownership laws for locally owned businesses. These changes were due to an International political agreement.