This tradition is solely associated with the Romanies. It is also known to the Roms outside Britain, which could mean that its origin is as old as the Romanies themselves.
The Crese, or Rom’s Court, settles matters between disputing Romanies. The court only includes the eldest or the wisest men - women do not participate at all. Men who are not related to the parties are invited to provide an objective point of view. Normally, the number of attendants varies between 12 and 30, and if the group is larger, then a hall needs to be hired for the occasion.
Once the trial starts, both parties are asked: “Whoever is in the fault, are you prepared to give your word to accept whatever decision we take?” and if they want the Crese to continue they both have to agree. Both parties give their statements in Romani, and most disputes tend to be about money or infidelity. When the court decides who is guilty, the person is fined (normally between £500 and £1000) and is expected to pay straight away, unless the fine is a high one and instalments are agreed. There is a separate penalty if the guilty party does not meet the conditions of the Court and the Crese can assemble again.
One of the people who took part in the Record Office’s project disclosed that nowadays this custom is now only followed in the USA, and the last one that he attended in Britain was 12 years ago.
Page Last Updated: 22 June 2012