Trial of Refusal
A Trial of Refusal is one of the Six Trials of Combat.
The Clan Council makes many decisions and laws using an internal vote. After a vote, a Warrior-caste council member can challenge the decision to a Trial of Refusal. A council member with a losing vote fights a member with a winning vote. The forces applied in the trial depend on the importance of the decision. (When a conflict erupts between two individuals rather than the result of a vote, it is usually settled with a Trial of Grievance.)
To prevent the Clans from being bogged down in endless Refusals, there are specific limits placed on them. The objecting party specifies what forces will participate in the trial. The ratio of forces involved in the trial reflects the vote. For example, if the vote was won 2:1, then the winners can field a force double that of the losers. However after the pre-trial bidding between those groups who seek to uphold the decision, the ratio will be closer to even. The council members involved in the trial are determined by this internal bidding. The member of a losing vote with a bid lower than the rest of the members with losing votes fights in the duel with their bid. The same goes for the members with the winning votes.
The outcome of a Trial of Refusal is not subject to a Trial of Refusal. No one may Refuse a Trial of Refusal, but multiple warriors may petition for Trials of Refusal. This means that a particularly unpopular vote may have to undergo several separate Trials. Only a single successful Trial of Refusal is needed to overturn the vote. After the first Trial of Refusal is complete, a majority vote is required to allow additional Trials.
Only the affected parties may fight in the Trial of Refusal, but these parties can call upon allies who were not part of the original decision. Just as these allies would benefit from a successful Trial of Refusal, should they fail, they will face the same outcome as the original affected party that they supported. The most common example is a Warrior who assists another Warrior in a Trial of Refusal over a punishment failing to win the Trial; The allied Warrior now has to perform the same punishment duty but if he had declined to help he wouldn't face any punishment at all.
A Trial of Refusal is not permitted to override a satarra, a vetoing of disputes between castes by the Clan council.
When the ComStar vessel Outbound Light was captured before the invasion of the Inner Sphere, a member of the ComStar crew asked what prevented a council member from casting a vote on the side they disagreed with if they knew it would lose so that, when they demanded a Trial of Refusal, the council member could bid an extremely low force that would definitely win the bidding but could not possibly win the trial. The suggestion that a warrior might consider this course of action was met with shock and frozen silence. One Loremaster refused any further interviews, and another prohibited the ComStar officers from any contact with the warriors of his Clan. Such a breach of honor is clearly unthinkable.
- Era Digest: Golden Century, p. 16
- Era Digest: Golden Century, p. 13