The main business of the court baron was the resolution of disputes involving a lord's free tenants within a single manor, to enforce the feudal services owed to the lord of the manor by his tenants, and to admit new tenants who had acquired copyholds by inheritance or purchase, for which they were obliged to pay a fine to the lord of the manor. The English jurist Edward Coke described the court in his The Compleate Copyholder (1644) as "the chief prope and pillar of a manor which no sooner faileth than the manor falleth to the ground". The court baron was constituted by the lord of the manor or his steward and a representative group of tenants known as the manorial homage, whose job was to make presentations to the court and act as a jury

By the 13th century compilations of precedents such as Le Court de Baron had begun to appear, partly to standardise and formalise the proceedings of the courts baron, but also in response to increasing competition from the common law courts, which were administered nationwide under the authority of the monarch. As it became increasingly acknowledged by the legal establishment during the 15th and 16th centuries that custom had "a secure place in law", plaintiffs were able to resort to the common law courts to resolve their differences over tenure rather than the court baron.

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