Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Amercement, or Amerciament, a pecuniary penalty imposed on offenders by Courts of Justice, according to the nature of the offence and the authority of the court. The term had also another practical signification. The plaintiff in an action was originally required to appear in court by himself, solicitor, or counsel before the jury delivered their verdict, that he might be present to answer the "amercement," to which, by the old law, he was liable in case of failure, as a punishment for his false claim, that word signifying that he was "a mercie," at the mercy of the Crown as to the fine to be imposed. The amercement is disused, but an allusion to it may still be traced, for if the plaintiff does not appear no verdict is given, and the plaintiff is then said to be nonsuited, non sequitur clamorer suum. The difference between amercements and fines is that the latter are certain, and are created by some statute; they can only be imposed and assessed by Courts of Record. The former are arbitrarily imposed by courts not of record, as Courts Leet.