Shomusata (trial dealing with land-related issues) (所務沙汰)

"Shomusata" is a term used in medieval Japan referring to disputes, suits, and trials over shoryo (territory) and nengu (land tax).

Originally, the word "shomu" meant jobs and duties, as suggested by the characters which mean "work that is related to the place"; however, with the development of shoen koryo sei (the system of public lands and private estates) during the Heian period, the word came to express the concept for the rights and obligations pertaining to the managerial work in shoen (manors) and koryo (the imperial teritories), and further during the Kamakura period, the word was extended to mean the property management of domains such as shoryo. By further extension, the word came to refer to the management of proceeds from shoryo. The proceeds from the shoryo correspond to the nengu.
(According to a Japanese - Portuguese dictionary, "shomu" means to collect the nengu.)

Agricultural lands were the sinews (capital) of the agricultural production which carried considerable weight in the economy of medieval Japan. To own and to take control of agricultural lands was the lifeline for the ruling class. Thus, in order to judge shomusata appropriately, Kamakura bakufu had established a very detailed system for settling lawsuits.

Shomusata was handled by hikitsukeshu (co-adjustor of the High Court), as the following procedure was carried out.

The Monchujo (the court of justice) accepted a complaint from the sonin (plaintiff) and delivered it to the hikitsukeshu.

The hikitsukeshu disclosed the complaint to the ronnin (defendant), and had ronnin make a written argument (statement). The statement was delivered to the sonin via the hikitsukeshu. The sonin then wrote conter-arguments twice, and the ronnin were also entitled to write further counter-arguments twice.

In this way, the plaintiff and the defendant were both given opportunities to make written allegations to the other party three times. This was called sanmon santo.

After that, the parties were convened and were made to argue directly with each other before the hikitsukeshu.

The hikitsukeshu submitted the results to the assessment assembly, and after a decision among the hyojoshu (a member of the Council of State) was made, the verdict was issued to the prevailing party as a gechijo (notification).

As explained above, the system ensured transparency and fairness in order to prevent the outcome of a trial to be one-sided or to reflect the inclinations of a particular influential individual.