Course Code : LAW 401

Course Title : Roman Law

Weekly Teaching Hour: 3-hours lecture per week, 4 (1-hour) tutorials

Who may enrol : Compulsory course for year 4 (Senior) LLB students .

Prerequisites : Previously studied and passed a Laws course

Lecturer : To be announced on August 2020

Description : This course introduces you to the full range of legal practices and concepts developed by the lawyers of ancient Rome.

Twice in European history has a legal system been created out of the customary practices of a particular people which has gone on to dominate the legal culture of half the world.

The second such system is Anglo-Saxon Common law, varieties of which are now to be found in all English-speaking countries and in their former colonies. The first was Roman law.

Roman law was the local law of a small city-state in Italy which grew to become an empire dominating the Mediterranean and western European world during antiquity.

Developing out of this in the mediaeval period, Roman law ideas influenced the law in all western countries (not excepting England).

In France, Germany, Holland, Spain and Italy and their overseas possessions from the Philippines and Sri Lanka to Francophobic Africa and Louisiana, together with the Slavic countries of Eastern Europe, Roman law has dominated legal development.

Codification has added Japan and Turkey to countries affected by Roman legal culture. Those who know no Roman law are ignorant of half the legal history of the world.

The growth of trade within the European Union and the consequent increase in the numbers of English lawyers setting up in continental Europe adds a peculiarly practical emphasis to the study of Roman law

The Roman Law course introduces you to the full range of legal practices and concepts developed by the lawyers of ancient Rome. Theirs was a customary system, like Anglo-Saxon, developed out of the practice of the courts and there are many points of similarity and comparison between the two. Gaining an understanding of the Roman legal system is a fascinating and intriguing exercise which has engaged the minds of some of the finest legal scholars over the past few hundred years.

The result is a study which offers a unique blend of comparative law, detailed scholarship, legal history and practical legal insights.

All the texts we study are translated. No prior knowledge of Latin, or of Roman history, is needed to take (and to do well in) this course.

Course outline:

Sources of Law in the Republic and Empire

Legal Procedure: the primacy of claims in court

The Law of Contracts: Verbal, Real, Written and Consensual contracts. Pacts. Quasi contracts.

The Law of Delict: Theft, damage to property (Lex Aquilia), contumelious insult. Quasi-delict.

The Law of Property: Ownership and Possession. Servitudes.

The Law of Succession

The Law of Persons: Slaves. Citizenship. Marriage and family relations.

Recommended Textbook (s) and Supplementary Books :

  1. Nicholas, B: Introduction to Roman Law (OUP 1962/1975 p/b ISBN: 0198760639)
  2. P Birks, “Roman Law in Twentieth Century Britain” in J Beatson and R Zimmermann (ed), Jurists Uprooted (Oxford, 2004)
  3. Wolff, H J: Roman Law (Oklahoma UP, 1985 p/b ISBN: 0806112964)
  4. Robinson, O R: The Sources of Roman Law (1997 Routledge p/b ISBN: 0415089956)
  5. Crawford, M H: The Roman Republic (2nd edn., 1992, p/b)
  6. Starr, C G: The Roman Empire (1982 OUP, p/b)

Course Assessment:

  • Class Participation 10%,

  • Mid-term Examination 30%,

  • Assignments 10%, 2 x formative essays

  • Final Examination 50%, 100% Unseen 3-hour written examination

Attendance 95 % compulsory.