Seignorial court (вотчинний суд; votchynnyi sud). A private court established by a noble on his estate to administer justice to his peasants. The nobles had wide authority (see domanial jurisdiction), and their decisions could not be appealed. Seignorial courts emerged in Kyivan Rus’ and reached their greatest power under feudalism. In Ukrainian territories of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, they sometimes heard appeals from community courts. In Russian-ruled Ukraine seignorial courts were introduced along with serfdom in the late 18th century and were abolished in the reforms of 1864.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

Encyclopedia of Ukraine