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The Doctor and Student (1518)
Christopher St. Germain
The third question of the student whether conscience is ordered after the law
Stud. If a tenant for term of life, or for term of years, do waste, whereby they be bound by the laws to yield to him in the reversion treble damages, and so shall forfeit the place wasted: whether he is also bound in conscience to pay those damages, and to restore that place wasted immediately after the waste done, as lie is in the single damages, or that lie is not bound thereto till the treble damages and place wasted be recovered in the king’s court.
Doct. Before judgment given in the treble damages, and of the place wasted, he is not bound in conscience to pay them, for it is uncertain what lie should pay: but it sufficeth that he be ready till judgment be given to yield damages according to the value of the waste; but after the judgment given, he is bound in conscience to yield the treble damages, and also the place wasted. And the same law is in all statutes penal, that is to say, that no man is bound in conscience to pay the penalty till it be recovered by the law.
Stud. Whether may he that hath offended against such a statute penal, defend the action, and hinder the judgment, to the intent he would not pay the penalty, but only single damages?
Doct. If the action be taken right wisely according to the statute, and upon a just cause, the defendant may in no wise defend the action, unless he have a true dilatory matter to plead, which should be hurtful to him if he pleaded not, though he be not bound to pay the penalty till it be recovered.