Code of Willing

The Code of Willing is a code of laws proclaimed by Willing, leader of the strongest faction of human rebels who captured the imperial Isle of Turfrae at the Fall of the Elven Empire.

It is based on Elvish law, but with key additions. Firstly, it forbids all forms of slavery, and secondly it guarantees freedom of religion.

Willing himself was a follower of Asterism, but enough of his supporters were of the Earthist Religion that it was politic to include such a guarantee. The clause specifies that nobody is to be forced to change their religious affiliation or practice, or persecuted for their religious or philosophical views, though it notes that religious or philosophical motivations are not a defense for committing acts which are criminal under other sections of the Code (and, by implication, under other legitimate laws based on the Code). It does not forbid discrimination on religious grounds, however, and the Earthists have remained an underclass, while Asterism is the established religion in most realms.

The Code does not specifically guarantee freedom of speech, but many jurists have argued that these freedoms are implicit in the freedom of belief clause. Realmgold Glorious (the predecessor of Realmgold Victory), who suppressed dissent during his reign, took the view that the Code was not intended to permit treason (a criminal act), and that disagreeing with his policies amounted to treason. This was not an original argument, but one that had been used frequently in the past.

Another provision of the Code, originating with the elves, is that no laws may be made restricting the private activities of adults which are not themselves in breach of other provisions of the Code. This is mainly taken to apply to sexual activity, though it also applies to drug use in private and to private discussions, acts of worship and the like.

The Code has a strong section condemning corruption, defined as using threats or inducements to interfere with any election, trial, inquiry or other official process, or the use of positive or negative inducements to public officials to depart from their duty or from the "even-handed, indifferent and disinterested" enforcement and execution of the law.

The Code of Willing formed the basis of law in all civilized realms after the fall of the Empire, though initially its spread was gradual, hampered by a degree of chaos which existed in the new human states.

Specific provisions:

  • Article 1: forbids slavery in all forms.
  • Article 2: forbids forced conversion or persecution of religious or philosophical beliefs or practices which are not criminal under other provisions of the Code, and allows for citizens to "assemble and make compacts for collective action" for any non-criminal ends.
  • Article 3: sets out due process for criminal justice, including burden of proof, qualifications for magistrates, right to a defender and to hear the evidence against one, and habeas corpus; forbids holding prisoners without charge for more than four days, without hearing for more than thirty-two; prescribes that prisoners are to be given adequate food and kept in sanitary conditions with access to daylight, and not overcrowded.
  • Article 4: sets out a framework for relationships between realms, including treaties and ambassadors and protocols for the declaration and conduct of war.
  • Article 5: concerns treason, its definition and punishment.
  • Article 6: concerns corruption, its definition and punishment.
  • Article 7: forbids taking of life except under authority and with due process, or in properly declared war.
  • Article 8: provides for punishments for assault, including sexual assault, and threatening behaviour, and gives a limited right to defend oneself or others with force in the absence of proper authorities.
  • Article 9: provides for protection of private property against theft and wilful damage, including giving a limited right to defend one's property with force in the absence of proper authorities.
  • Article 10: concerns fraud and associated crimes.
  • Article 11: provides for taxes to be levied "for the benefit of the realm", but notes that it is not legal to do so "to an extent or in a manner that makes unduly burdensome the practice of any legal trade"; allows for goods to be made illegal to sell "if it is demonstrated that great harm comes from the use or existence of those goods, and that the goods can be effectively forbidden".
  • Article 12: allows for other regulations of commerce and public behaviour "that are demonstrated to be necessary or beneficial, and not unduly harmful, nor in contravention of other provisions of the Code," but explicitly forbids the making of laws to regulate private behaviour that is not criminal under other provisions of the Code.