The Effectiveness of The Early Roman Law of Contract for Bankers. An Economic Historian’s View - Dr Philip Kay (Supernumerary Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Oxford)

Event Name The Effectiveness of The Early Roman Law of Contract for Bankers. An Economic Historian’s View - Dr Philip Kay (Supernumerary Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Oxford)
Start Date 16th Mar 2018 5:30pm
End Date 16th Mar 2018 7:00pm
Duration 1 hour and 30 minutes
Description

Abstract

Livy and other ancient authors suggest that bankers were operating in Rome from as early as the end of the fourth century BC. Some have doubted the veracity of these reports, but the plays of Plautus, written around 200 BC, present a monetised world in which bankers are active and in which the use of banking terminology suggests that deposit banking was already well established as part of everyday Roman life.


Against that background, this paper will take a critical look at the Roman law of obligations in the middle Republic to examine the extent to which, given the importance of ‘judicial security’ in the financial world, the ius civile at that time provided practical and effective mechanisms for bankers and their depositors to make contracts with each other and to seek remedies when monies were not repaid. 

Rome between the late fourth and early second centuries BC was a society in which the form of contract was oral or performative and the legis actio procedure was still dominant, while, on conventional dating, the ius honorarium was still embryonic. Did this legal framework help or hinder bankers and indeed did the gradual development of the ius honorarium from the late third century BC onwards actually change any significant elements of the law of obligations as it affected bankers?


In order to help gauge the practical effectiveness of the Roman system of contract law and litigation in the middle Republic, the paper examines how Roman legal mechanisms compare with those of Athenian contract law. This provides a useful comparator, because evidence for its language and formulation comes mainly from the body of forensic oratory between around 400 and 320 BC and is, therefore, only a generation or so earlier than the period we are discussing. 


Finally, what do these investigations tell us about the progress of the Roman economy during the last three centuries of the Republic?

 

Biography

Dr Philip Kay is a Supernumerary Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Oxford. His research interests include the economy of the Roman Republic and ancient banking. His monograph, Rome’s Economic Revolution, a study of the Roman economy during the long second century BC, was published by OUP in 2014. In addition to his academic work, he runs his own investment management business.


 

This event is free and open to all - no registration is required.