This was the Romani people’s traditional court, only used as a last resort for matters between Romani groups and individuals which could not be settled by other less serious means elsewhere. The purpose of the Kris was to act as a judicial institution for the Romani, encouraging cohesion whilst maintaining social balance.
Minor disputes are informally settled by other members of the community, usually in the presence of clan leaders. Although the clan leaders, acting as judges, may recommend a certain settlement, it is ultimately down to the parties involved to decide on whether this settlement is agreeable. If there is a refusal, the case is brought to the Kris.
Before the beginning of a session, several oaths involving the names of prominent ancestors are taken to ensure honesty throughout the length of the proceedings, not so much different from most court systems in the West. Once a kris is convened, 5 to 11 figures of relatively high standing are appointed to preside over the kris, their decisions final. However, instead of keeping in line with Western judicial institutions where guilt is emphasized heavily, the punishments seek to restore balance to society, with high regard awarded to returning mutual respect between the conflicting parties.
Married males were formerly the only individuals allowed to present cases in the Kris, often doing so on the behalf of females and unmarried relatives!