The Mercenary Code is a set of rules and regulations enforced by the Mercenary Guild. These pertain to individuals, companies and employers.
An individual who pays the annual fee to the Guild to register as a bonded mercenary must conform to a code of conduct which includes no torture, no rape ever, and no pillaging unless explicitly given permission to do so by their employer. Adhering to this code means bonded mercenaries are more likely to be employed, and can command higher fees.
A bonded company not only agrees to the rules for individuals, but also has regulations for the rights and responsibilities of those individuals as members of the company, as well as rules for the companies internal structure. These rules govern the succession to the Captain's office, allow injured mercenaries to sever their contracts with the company and make provision for a decimated company to replace an incompetent Captain.
The Guild also insures that employers uphold their end of any contract with bonded individuals or companies, and provides for the ransom of any bonded individuals who are captured in battle. In all cases disputes are handled by a panel of Guild Arbiters who hear the case and issue a judgement. Penalties for individuals may include fines, official censure (making it more difficult to secure employment) or expulsion from the Guild.
Penalties for companies may include fines, censure, replacement of the Captain or disbandment of the company. For employers, the usual punishment is fines, though the Guild may also add the employer to a exclusion list, insuring that no bonded individual or company will ever accept another contract from them.
The harshest penalty that can be imposed, and is only used in the most drastic of circumstances, is that of the Oathbreaker ritual. Once someone is declared an oathbreaker, they exist outside the protections of the Code and are essentially free game for torture and killing by anyone who finds them.