Merchants Law in the Middle Ages
Pie poudre or piepowder is an old Norman French expression that literally means ‘dusty feet’. It is given to refer to travelling ‘foreigners’ visiting a fair or market to trade in goods. It was a summary court held by a borough to record all commercial incidents.
Courts of Pie Poudre were the lowest courts of justice in ancient common law. They were often held outdoors. The courts were organised and administered by senior merchants of the borough to deal with fair trading.
Decisions had to be made within a day and a half of any accusation to ensure reasonable proof of dissatisfaction. Sanctions generally amounted to fines or the pillory. Non-payers could have their goods seized.