Paul J. du Plessis holds the chair of Roman law at the University of Edinburgh. He is a legal historian whose research focuses predominantly on the multifaceted and complex set of relationships between law and society in a historical context. His main field of research is Roman law (with specific reference to property, obligations and, to a lesser extent, persons and family). Within this field, he is mainly concerned with the contexts within which law operates and the extent to which modern socio-legal methodologies can be applied to historical material from the Roman period in order to further our understanding of Roman law. To that end, his work is mainly concerned with the formulation of a methodology for ‘law and society’ research with reference to the Roman Empire.
In the context of his interest in ‘law and society’, his research also focuses on a further period where Roman legal principles were used to create law, namely the period of the European ius commune in the late Middle Ages. Here, his research explores themes such as structure, doctrine and legitimacy with a view to challenging the accepted ‘macro-narratives’ of European legal history.
In 2012, he was elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
Ph.D. supervision interests
Paul du Plessis welcomes any enquiries from prospective LL.M or PhD students in any of his major or minor fields of research. He also supervises candidates in the fields of ancient history and history of ideas.
He is a member of various organisations dedicated to the study of legal history (the Selden Society, the Stair Society and the Southern African Society of Legal Historians) and he contributes actively to the web pages of the Centre for Legal History at Edinburgh University, primarily as co-author of the Edinburgh Legal History Blog. Since 2016, he is the Director of the Centre for Legal History.
He is also convener of the Edinburgh Roman Law Group, one of the most prominent groups for the discussion of Roman law in the United Kingdom and Western Europe and co-director of the research network Ancient Law in Context hosted jointly by the School of Law and the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh.
He is the general editor (with Thomas McGinn) of the monograph series Oxford Studies in Roman Society and Law.
Civil Law (Honours) (Course Organiser)
Civil Law Ordinary (Ordinary) (Course Organiser)
Reasoning Using Civilian Authority (Honours) (Course Organiser)
Trade Commerce and Society in the Roman Empire (Honours) (Course Organiser)
Kane Abry-Diaw De Baye 'Principe de consensualisme and causa: A Historical Comparative Approach in the Civil Law and Common Law of Obligations'
Jonathan Samuel Ainslie 'Legal and Economic Fragmentation in the Roman Mediterranean, 235-312 CE'
Peter Candy 'Rome's Economic and Legal Transformation: The Development of Roman Maritime Law during the Late Republic'
Maria Ithurria 'Historical - dogmatic study of the responsibility for redhibitory vices.'
Ross Macdonald 'Accounting for inter vivos gifts in the law of succession: a historical/comparative analysis'
Books and Reports
Paul Du Plessis, Wrongful Damage to Property in Roman Law: British Perspectives, (Edinburgh University Press, 2018)
Abstract: Few topics have had a more profound impact on the study of Roman law in Britain than the lex Aquilia, a Roman statute enacted c.287/286 BCE to reform the Roman law on wrongful damage to property. This volume investigates this peculiarly British fixation against the backdrop larger themes such as the development of delict/tort in Britain and the rise of comparative law. Taken collectively, the volume establishes whether it is possible to identify a 'British' method of researching and writing about Roman law.
Paul Du Plessis, Clifford Ando, Kaius Tuori, The Oxford Handbook of Roman Law and Society, (Oxford University Press, 2016)
Paul Du Plessis, Cicero's Law: Rethinking Roman Law in the Late Republic, (Edinburgh University Press, 2016)
Abstract: This volume brings together an international team of scholars to debate Cicero's role in the narrative of Roman law in the late Republic – a role that has been minimised or overlooked in previous scholarship. This reflects current research that opens a larger and more complex debate about the nature of law and of the legal profession in the last century of the Roman Republic.
Paul Du Plessis, John W. Cairns, Reassessing Legal Humanism and its Claims: Petere Fontes?, (Edinburgh University Press, 2015)
Abstract: The traditional grand narratives of European legal history have begun to be questioned, to the extend that the nature and legacy of legal humanism now deserve closer scrutiny. Building on the groundbreaking work by Douglas Osler, who has been critical of the traditional narratives, this volume interrogates the orthodox views regarding legal humanism and its legacy.Fundamentally reassessing the nature and impact of legal humanism on the narratives of European legal history, this volume brings together the foremost international experts in related fields of legal and intellectual history to debate the central issues.Legal humanism has become deeply entrenched in most modern works on European legal history from the seventeenth century onwards and has been accepted with such blind faith by many modern scholars that few have challenged it. The consequence is that scholars who have accepted the traditional view have used it to substantiate larger claims about the death of Roman law, the separation between the golden age of a pan-European medieval ius commune and the fragmented reception of Roman law into the nation states of Europe, and the relevance of ‘dogmatic’ Roman law as opposed to ‘antiquarian’ Roman law.
Paul Du Plessis, Borkowski's Textbook on Roman Law, (Oxford University Press, 2015)
Paul J. Du Plessis, New Frontiers: Law and Society in the Roman World, (Edinburgh University Press, 2014)
Abstract: An interdisciplinary edited collection on social science methodologies for approaching Roman legal sources. Roman law as a field of study is rapidly evolving to reflect new perspectives and approaches in research. Scholars who work on the subject are increasingly being asked to conduct research in an interdisciplinary manner whereby Roman law is not merely seen as a set of abstract concepts devoid of any background, but as a body of law which operated in a specific social, economic and cultural context. This context-based, 'law and society' approach to the study of Roman law is an exciting new field which legal historians must address. This interdisciplinary collection focuses on three larger themes which have emerged from these studies: Roman legal thought the interaction between legal theory and legal practice and the relationship between law and economics. Key Features. • Furthers the current debate on the interface between legal history and ancient history • Brings together a distinguished group of scholars who will provide different perspectives on this debate • Addresses particular themes within this debate such as law and legal practice, law and gender as well as law and economics.
Paul Du Plessis, New Frontiers: Law and Society in the Roman World, (Edinburgh University Press, 2014)
Abstract: Roman law as a field of study is rapidly evolving to reflect new perspectives and approaches in research. Scholars who work on the subject are increasingly being asked to conduct research in an interdisciplinary manner whereby Roman law is not merely seen as a set of abstract concepts devoid of any background, but as a body of law which operated in a specific social, economic and cultural context. This context-based, 'law and society' approach to the study of Roman law is an exciting new field which legal historians must address.This interdisciplinary collection focuses on three larger themes which have emerged from these studies: Roman legal thought the interaction between legal theory and legal practice and the relationship between law and economics.
Paul J. du Plessis, New Frontiers: Law and Society in the Roman World, (Oxford University Press, 2013)
Abstract: An interdisciplinary, edited collection on social science methodologies for approaching Roman legal sources. Roman law as a field of study is rapidly evolving to reflect new perspectives and approaches in research. Scholars who work on the subject are increasingly being asked to conduct research in an interdisciplinary manner whereby Roman law is not merely seen as a set of abstract concepts devoid of any background, but as a body of law which operated in a specific social, economic and cultural context.
Paul Du Plessis, New Frontiers: Law and Society in the Roman World, (Edinburgh University Press, 2013)
Abstract: An interdisciplinary, edited collection on social science methodologies for approaching Roman legal sources. Roman law as a field of study is rapidly evolving to reflect new perspectives and approaches in research. Scholars who work on the subject are increasingly being asked to conduct research in an interdisciplinary manner whereby Roman law is not merely seen as a set of abstract concepts devoid of any background, but as a body of law which operated in a specific social, economic and cultural context. This “context-based” approach to the study of Roman law is an exciting new field which legal historians must address. Since the mid-1960s, a new academic movement has advocated a “law and society” approach to the study of Roman law instead of the prevailing dogmatic methodology employed in many Faculties of law. Key Features: *This book aims to further the current debate on the interface between legal history and ancient history. *It brings together a distinguished group of scholars who will provide different perspectives on this debate. *It addresses particular themes within this debate such as law and legal practice, law and gender as well as law and economics.
Paul Du Plessis, Letting and Hiring in Roman Legal Thought: 27 BCE - 284 CE, (Brill, 2012)
Abstract: Commerce in the Roman Empire of the first three centuries CE operated within a well-established legal framework provided by Roman law. This framework was the product of both legal theory and legal practice. Centuries of Praetorian modification of the ancient ius civile, augmented by conceptual legal thought provided by the Roman jurists had produced a body of law which permitted commerce to flourish and to expand. Central to this body of law was the contract of letting and hiring, one of the four named 'consensual' contracts in Roman law. Building on the pioneering work undertaken by Fiori (1999) on Roman conceptual thought about letting and hiring, this books fills an important gap in the current scholarly literature on this contract and its place in Roman commerce.
Paul Du Plessis, Studying Roman Law, (Bristol Classics Press, 2012)
Abstract: Studying Roman Law is an introductory guide aimed at sixth-formers, students and those with a general interest wishing to obtain a basic overview of Roman private law during the first three centuries of the Common Era. It is not meant to be a replacement for more comprehensive and technical manuals on Roman law, but should rather be seen as introductory reading. It contains a basic overview of the sources of Roman private law and a guide to their use together with a survey of the main areas of the law using primary sources in translation. It also explains the different contexts in which these rules arose and operated as well as the mechanisms by which they were enforced against the backdrop of one of the most sophisticated and influential legal systems of the ancient world.
John W. Cairns, Paul Du Plessis, The creation of the Ius Commune: From Casus to Regula, (Edinburgh University Press, 2010)
Abstract: This book is concerned with the transformation of Roman legal rules into the 'common law' of Western Europe in the period 1100-1400. In the space of three centuries these rules, collected in the sixth-century compilation produced by order of the Emperor Justinian, were comprehensively analysed and transformed by successive generations of medieval Italian and French jurists into the bedrock of Western European law. Through a series of chapters a number of distinguished scholars survey the traditional classifications of private law to establish the cognitive techniques used by these jurists to transform Roman law, along with Canon law into the ius commune of Western Europe.
Paul J. du Plessis, Borkowski's Textbook on Roman Law, (Oxford University Press, 2010)
Abstract: Borkowski's Textbook on Roman Law has been written with undergraduate students firmly in mind. The book provides a clear and highly readable account of Roman private law and civil procedure, with coverage of all key topics, including the Roman legal system, and the law of persons, property, and obligations.
John W. Cairns, P. J. Du Plessis, Beyond Dogmatics: Law and Society in the Roman World, (Edinburgh University Press, 2008)
Abstract: This book contributes to the debate about the relationship between law and society in the Roman world. This debate, which was initiated by the work of John Crook in the 1960s, has had a profound impact upon the study of law and history and has created sharply divided opinions on the extent to which law may be said to be a product of the society that created it. This work is an attempt to provide a balanced assessment of the various points of view. The chapters within the book have been specifically arranged to represent the debate. The chapters address this debate by focusing on studies of law and empire, codes and codification, death and economics, commerce and procedure. This book does not purport to provide a complete survey of Roman private law in light of Roman society. Its primary aim is to address specific areas of the law with a view to contributing to the larger debate.
Paul Du Plessis, Andrew Borkowski, Textbook on Roman Law, (Oxford University Press, 2005)
Abstract: Textbook on Roman Law provides students with a lucid and readable exposition of Roman private law and civil procedure. Beginning with a historical sketch of Roman and the key landmarks in Roman history, Borkowski and Du Plessis then outline the basic structure of the Roman legal system with particular reference to civil courts and civil procedure. This is followed by a survey of the Roman law of persons, property and inheritance, and obligations.
Paul Du Plessis, A History of Remissio Mercedis and Related Legal Institutions, (Sanders Institute/Kluwer, 2003)
Abstract: This book fills a gap in the scholarly literature on rent abatement due to acts of God [remissio mercedis] in the history of the European ius commune. From its Roman-law origin in agricultural practice of the first century BC, this book argues, contrary to current opinion, that the principle of rent abatement was essentially founded on the bona fides. In developing this argument, the book focuses on the history of rent abatement due to acts of God in the European ius commune and the reception of this principle into contemporary civilian and mixed legal systems.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Review: P. Erdkamp/ K . Verboven /A. Zuiderhoek (Hgg.), Ownership and Exploitation of Land and Natural Resources in the Roman World. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2015. 407 S., ISBN 9780198728924 ', (2018), Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung fur Rechtsgeschichte, Vol 2018, pp 862-863
Paul Du Plessis, 'Review of Fox, D. and Ernst, W. (eds) Money in the Western Legal Tradition: Middle Ages to Bretton Woods. Banking & Finance Law Review, 33(1), 117-119. ', (2017), Butterworths Journal of International Banking and Financial Law, pp 117-119
Paul du Plessis, Willemien du Plessis, 'Editorial: Special edition: Engaging with African customary law: Legal history in contemporary South Africa', (2017), Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, Vol 20
Abstract: This special edition consists of a selection of contributions delivered an event on "Custom, Oral History and Law: Writing South African Legal History", co-hosted by the Law School, University of Edinburgh and the Faculty of Law, North-West University.
Paul Du Plessis, 'A Letter from the Edge of the World ', (2014), Ars Aequi, pp 5-7
Paul Du Plessis, 'A Dialogue between Legal Theory and Legal Practice: Thoughts from the ius commune', (2013), Rabels Zeitschrift fur Auslandisches und Internationales Privatrecht, Vol 77, pp 379-87
Paul Du Plessis, '(J.) Harries, (I.) Wood (edd.) The Theodosian Code. Studies in the Imperial Law of Late Antiquity. Second edition. ', (2012), The Classical Review, Vol 62, pp 617-18
Paul Du Plessis, 'Review: Tarwacka, A. Romans and Pirates: Legal Perspective (Warsaw 2011) ', (2012), The Classical Review, Vol 62, pp 245-46
Paul J. Du Plessis, 'The slave in the window ', (2012), Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, Vol 53, pp 49-60
Paul Du Plessis, 'The Right to Specific Performance: The Historical Development. Ed by Jan Hallebeek and Harry Dondorp ', (2011), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 15, pp 145-46
Paul Du Plessis, 'Le Code Théodosien. Diversité des approches et nouvelles perspectives (Rome 2009) ', (2011), The Classical Review, Vol 61, pp 571-72
Paul Du Plessis, 'Paolo Grossi, A History of European Law. Translated by Laurence Hooper ', (2011), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 15, pp 495-97
Paul Du Plessis, 'Randall Lesaffer, European Legal History: A Cultural and Political Perspective ', (2011), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 15, pp 144-45
Paul Du Plessis, 'James A Brundage, The Medieval Origins of the Legal Profession: Canonists, Civilians and Courts ', (2010), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 14, pp 174-75
Paul Du Plessis, 'Caroline Humfress, Orthodoxy and the Courts in Late Antiquity ', (2010), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 14, pp 173-74
Paul Du Plessis, 'Law before Gratian: Law in Western Europe c 500-1100. Ed by P Andersen, M Münster-Swendsen and H Vogt ', (2009), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 13, pp 371-72
Paul Du Plessis, 'F Ranieri, Das Europäische Privatrecht Des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts: Studien zur Rechtsgeschichte und Rechtsvergleichung ', (2009), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 13, pp 179-80
Paul Du Plessis, 'SJ Niekerk (convenor), DM Kriel (translator), JT Pretorius (co-ordinator) and DH van ZYL (revisor): The Three Books on Interest-Bearing Loans and Interest (foenus et usurae) by Gerard Noodt, Jurist and Professor of Law ', (2009), Fundamina, Vol 15, pp 223-224
Abstract: Translation is a thankless task with few rewards. It is a complex and time consuming labour that requires specialist skills, patience and dedication. During the last few decades, legal scholars from one jurisdiction in particular, South Africa, have established themselves as the pre-eminent translators of sources of the European ius commune.
Paul Du Plessis, 'David B Goldman, Globalisation and the Western Legal Tradition ', (2009), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 13, pp 176-77
Paul Du Plessis, Rena van den Bergh, 'Divergences within the ius commune (2) ', (2008), Tydskrif vir Hedendaags Romeins-Hollandse Reg/ Journal of contemporary Roman-Dutch law, pp 110-18
Abstract: This article compares the classification of contracts in Roman-Dutch and Scottish legal writing during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries against the backdrop of the development of a general principle of contract during this period.
John W. Cairns, Paul Du Plessis, 'Ten Years of Roman Law in Scottish Courts ', (2008), Scots Law Times, pp 191-94
Abstract: This survey looks at the extent to which Roman law has been cited in Scottish courts in the last 10 years.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Gábor Hamza, WEGE DER ENTWICKLUNG DES PRIVATRECHTS IN EUROPA ', (2008), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 12, pp 161-62
Paul Du Plessis, 'The Creation of Legal Principle ', (2008), Roman Legal Tradition, Vol 4, pp 46-69
Abstract: This article examines the process whereby legal principle was created in the formative period of the ius commune (1100-1400). It uses a specific example from the realm of the law of letting and hiring to argue that distinct phases can be identified in this process. An appreciation of the existence of these phases, in turn, casts new light on the variety of specialised cognitive techniques employed by medieval jurists to transform Roman legal rules into the 'common law' of Europe.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Jacobus Voorda, Dictata ad Ius Hodiernum, transl Margaret Hewett ', (2007), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 11, pp 132-33
Paul Du Plessis, Rena van den Bergh, 'Divergences within the ius commune (1) ', (2007), Tydskrif vir Hedendaags Romeins-Hollandse Reg/ Journal of contemporary Roman-Dutch law, pp 611-21
Abstract: This article compares the classification of contracts in Roman-Dutch and Scottish legal writing during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries against the backdrop of the development of a general principle of contract during this period.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Review: Meyer, E. A. Legitimacy and Law in the Roman World: Tabulae in Roman Belief and Practice (Cambridge 2004) ', (2007), International Journal of the Classical Tradition, Vol 14, pp 636-38
Paul Du Plessis, 'Innkeeper's Liability for Loss Suffered by Guests: Drake v Dow', (2007), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 11, pp 89-94
Abstract: Drake v Dow is concerned with the issue of strict liability attributed to innkeepers for loss suffered by guests. The case also contains an entertaining foray into the historical development of the law of delict in Scotland and may therefore be of interest to legal historians.
Paul Du Plessis, 'The Interdictum de Migrando revisited ', (2007), Revue Internationale des droits de l’Antiquité, Vol 53, pp 219-44
Abstract: This article examines a little-known Praetorian Interdict which could be used by tenants of urban property to dispute a landlord's attachment of certain movable property in lieu of payment of rent. It explores the relationship between this remedy and the Roman law of pledge without possession.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Harke, J.-D. Locatio conductio, Kolonat, Pacht, Landpacht (Schriften zur Europäischen Rechts- und Verfassungsgeschichte Band 48) (Berlin 2005) ', (2007), Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis, Vol 75, pp 55-56
Paul Du Plessis, 'Ernest Metzger (ed.), Law for All Times: Essays in Memory of David Daube ', (2006), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 10, pp 460-61
Paul Du Plessis, 'J Ahdar, Worlds Colliding: Conservative Christians and the Law ', (2006), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 10, pp 177-78
Paul Du Plessis, 'Janus in the Roman Law of Urban Lease ', (2006), Historia, Vol 55, pp 48-63
Abstract: This article explores the practice of subletting of urban property using a primary tenant (contractual middleman) in classical Roman law. It aims to establish, through an analysis of the extant sources, whether the law afforded the primary tenant, owing to his singular contractual position, additional legal protection apart from those measures generally afforded to all tenants of urban property. The analysis will focus on three situations discussed in Roman legal sources, namely the sale of the tenement, payment of rent by the primary tenant and breach of contract by the owner of the tenement.
Paul Du Plessis, 'J Powell and J Paterson (eds.), Cicero the Advocate ', (2006), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 10, pp 324-24
Paul Du Plessis, 'The Roman Concept of Lex Contractus ', (2006), Roman Legal Tradition, pp 79-94
Abstract: This article investigates the scope and function of the written terms of a contract in Roman law. It investigates the semantics of these written accounts in an attempt to understand the Roman concept of contract and the legal conventions that governed it.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Hendrik Wessel, Das Recht der Tablettes Albertini ', (2006), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 10, pp 176-77
Paul Du Plessis, 'Ernest Metzger, Litigation in Roman Law ', (2006), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 10, pp 323-24
Paul Du Plessis, 'Between Theory and Practice: New Perspectives on the Roman Law of Letting and Hiring', (2006), Cambridge Law Journal, Vol 65, pp 423-37
Abstract: Juristic writing and Imperial Constitutions on the subject of locatio conductio, collected by the compilers to produce D.19.2 and C.4.65, do not present a complete picture of the Roman law of lease. Not only were most of these texts severed from their original context, but the statements in the Introductory Constitutions to different parts of the Corpus Iuris Civilis also indicate that a large number were eliminated in the compilation process. Although it can hardly be disputed that what the compilers chose to include in these two titles was an accurate account of the law of letting and hiring in force during the time of Justinian, it has been credibly suggested that these titles were given a specific focus in order to project a particular image of the Roman rental economy.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Subletting and the Roman law of Letting and Hiring: Interpreting C.4.65.6', (2005), Revue Internationale des droits de l’Antiquité, Vol 52, pp 133-46
Abstract: This article explores subletting in Roman and medieval learned law. It examines the legal rules governing this aspect of letting and hiring and it relationship to other areas of law. It draws conclusions on the way in which the Roman legal rule on subletting was modified to provide the basis for the ius commune rule on the topic.
Paul Du Plessis, 'A New Argument for deductio ex mercede ', (2005), Fundamina, pp 69-80
Abstract: In his book Landlords and tenants in Imperial Rome and in a number of articles, B.W. Frier has advocated the existence of a legal remedy which functioned in the context of urban lease in classical Roman law. This remedy, called deductio ex mercede, was seemingly only available to tenants of urban property. It was essentially a form of legalised self-help that arose during the Republic and which enabled urban tenants unilaterally to deduct an amount of rent when undisclosed circumstances.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Elizabeth A Meyer, Legitimacy and Law in the Roman World: Tabulae in Roman Belief and Practice ', (2005), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 9, pp 338-40
Paul Du Plessis, 'Roebuck, D. and De Loynes de Fumichon, B. Roman Arbitration (Oxford 2004) ', (2005), Journal of Legal History, Vol 26, pp 380-82
Paul Du Plessis, 'Paul McKechnie (ed), Thinking Like a Lawyer: Essays on Legal History and General History for John Crook on his Eightieth Birthday ', (2004), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 8, pp 425-27
Paul Du Plessis, 'The Protection of the Contractor in Public Works Contracts in the Roman Republic and Early Empire ', (2004), Journal of Legal History, Vol 25, pp 287-314
Abstract: The use of contractors to build and maintain public works in Rome and the provinces is a common feature of Roman building practice in the Republic and early Principate. It reflects a general tendency in Roman republican administration (also found in other sectors such as tax-farming) to let out state business to private entrepreneurs. While the extant sources frequently mention the use of contractors in public works contracts, most references do not describe the internal workin of these contracts or (to use the terminology of Roman private law) the rights and duties of the parties involved. This article examines selected references to public works contracts in legal and literary sources in an attempt to clarify a single aspect of the contractual relationship between the state and an individual. The purpose of this survey is to establish whether the sources allude to any form of legal protection available to a contractor in his dealings with Roman magistrates in the context of public works contracts.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Las Siete Partidas. Trans by Samuel Parsons Scott; ed by Robert I Burns (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001) ', (2003), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 7, pp 138-39
Paul Du Plessis, 'George Mousourakis, THE HISTORICAL AND INSTITUTIONAL CONTEXT OF ROMAN LAW ', (2003), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 7, pp 421-23
Paul Du Plessis, 'Speculum iuris: Roman Law as a Reflection of Social and Economic Life in Antiquity. Ed by Jean-Jacques Aubert and Boudewijn Sirks (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002) ', (2003), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 7, pp 275-76
Paul Du Plessis, 'Of mice - and other disasters - and men: Rent abatement due to unforeseen and uncontrollable events in the civilian tradition', (2002), Tulane European and Civil Law Forum, Vol 17, pp 113-49
Abstract: This article draws a comparison between the treatment of a specific aspect of the law of lease (the tenant's right to a proportional abatement of the amount of rent due, owing to the occurrence of unforeseen and uncontrollable events) in a codified civilian system and a mixed jurisdiction, partly founded on civil law. The methodological aim of the comparison is to examine the similarities in the treatment of this area of law in both systems owing to their Roman-law foundations, despite the different historical sources on which these systems are based.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Good Faith and Equity in the Law of Contract in the Civilian Tradition ', (2002), Tydskrif vir Hedendaags Romeins-Hollandse Reg, Vol 65, pp 397-412
Abstract: This article traces the Roman-law origins of the concept of good faith in the law of contract in the civilian tradition with a view to providing better insight into the functioning of this principle in a mixed jurisdiction such as that of South Africa. It contains a brief overview of the current debate on the function of a regulatory principle such as good faith in the law of contract in South Africa and provides suggestions as to future developments.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Condicio servorum ', (2001), Fundamina, Vol 7, pp 110-18
Paul Du Plessis, 'The Tenant and Acts of God: Remissio mercedis in South African law', (2001), Tydskrif vir Hedendaags Romeins-Hollandse Reg, pp 471-75
Abstract: This note discusses the applicability of remissio mercedis in contemporary South African law.
Paul Du Plessis, 'The actio aquae pluviae arcendae in South African Law ', (2000), Fundamina, pp 77-85
Abstract: This article traces the historical reception and contemporary relevance of a Roman-law action, prohibiting neighbours from interfering with the natural flow of water, into South African law.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Die Gelding van die actio aquae pluviae arcendae in die Suid-Afrikaanse Reg ', (2000), Fundamina, Vol 6, pp 77-85
Paul Du Plessis, 'Conceptions of Roman law in Scots law 1900-1960' in Kaius Tuori, Heta Björklund (ed.) Roman Law and the Idea of Europe (Bloomsbury Academic 2018) 221-238
Abstract: This chapter examines the narratives surrounding the use of Roman law as a source of Scots law in the first part of the 20th century. In doing so, it touches on themes such as legal positivism and legal nationalism.
Paul Du Plessis, 'The Law of the Harvest ' in Lorenzo Gagliardi (ed.) Antologia Giuridica Romanistica ed Antiquaria II (Giuffre Editore Milano 2018) 141-157
Abstract: This chapter examines various public-law and private-law rules relating to the harvesting of crops in Roman legal sources to establish whether such rules were influenced by economic concerns.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Classical and Post-Classical Roman law The Legal Actors and Sources' in Heikki Pihlajamäki, Marcus Dubber, Mark Godfrey (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of European Legal History (Oxford University Press 2018) 186 - 200
Abstract: This chapter surveys Roman law as an important influence upon the development of law in the European legal tradition. Starting with the origins of the Roman State in the myth of Romulus and Remus, this chapter provides an account of the main constitutional structures of the Roman State across time. These structures provide the backdrop for a larger discussion of the nature of Roman law, the sources of law and the changes to the Roman legal order. The chapter ends with the 'fall' of the Western Empire in the fifth century A.D. and leaves the discussion of Justinianic Roman law to another chapter elsewhere in this volume.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Servius Sulpicius Rufus ' in Roger S. Bagnall, Kai Brodersen, Craige B. Champion, Andrew Erskine (ed.) Wiley Encyclopaedia of Ancient History (Wiley 2018)
Paul Du Plessis, 'Quintus Cervidius Scaevola ' in The Encyclopaedia of Ancient History (Wiley-Blackwell 2017)
Abstract: This entry provides an overview of the life of Q. Cervidius Scaevola, a Roman jurist of the latter part of the second century ce. It focuses on his life and works and places him within in the larger context of Roman juristic culture of the later Principate.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Once more on the perpetual guardianship of women ' in Uri Yiftach, Michele Faraguna (ed.) Legal Documents in Ancient Societies VI. Ancient Guardianship (EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste 2017) 165-172
Abstract: The aim of this short piece is to investigate a statement by Gaius in his Institutes concerning the motivations for the perpetual guardianship of women in Roman law. Using a structuralist approach, the main argument put forward in this piece is that Gaius’ statement should be viewed within the context of larger social forces at work in Roman society.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Tractatus de Legibus Abrogatis et Inusitatis in Hollandia Vicinisque Regionibus (A Treatise on the Laws Abrogated and No Longer in Use in Holland and Neighbouring Regions) Simon Groenewegen van der Made' in Serge Dauchy, G. Martyn, A. Musson, H. Pihlajamäki, A. Wijffels (ed.) The Formation and Transmission of Western Legal Culture (Springer 2016) 186-188
Abstract: An entry about the most famous works of the Dutch jurists, Simon Groenewegen and their significance for the transmission of law in Western Europe
Paul Du Plessis, 'Urban landlords and tenants ' in Paul J. du Plessis, Clifford Ando, Kaius Tuori (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Roman Law and Society (Oxford University Press 2016) 1-12
Abstract: This chapter examines legal and epigraphic sources devoted to the renting of mass housing in Rome and the other major cities of the Empire. Building on the pioneering work by Frier in 1980, it argues that the legal sources reveal a sophisticated system of subletting that was developed to accommodate the upper-class owners of these properties and left the daily management of them in the hands of venture capitalists. This was done not only to relieve these individuals of the stigma associated with commerce, but also to spread the financial risk of urban property investment among both owners and venture capitalists.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Postscript ' in Paul du Plessis (ed.) Cicero's Law (Edinburgh University Press 2016) 228-230
Paul Du Plessis, 'Introduction ' in Paul du Plessis (ed.) Cicero's Law (Edinburgh University Press 2016) 1-7
Paul J. Du Plessis, John W. Cairns, 'Preface ' in Reassessing Legal Humanism and its Claims (Edinburgh University Press 2015) vii-viii
Paul Du Plessis, 'Postscript ' in Paul J. Du Plessis, John W. Cairns (ed.) Reassessing Legal Humanism and its Claims (Edinburgh University Press 2015) 377-380
Paul Du Plessis, 'The Law of Property ' in David Johnston (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Roman Law (Cambridge University Press 2015) 175-98
Paul Du Plessis, 'Return to the Wood in Roman Kent ' in Eva Jakab (ed.) Sale and Community - Documents from the Ancient World (Edizioni Università di Trieste 2015) 171
Abstract: The aim of this chapter is to revisit an enigmatic and incomplete wax tablet from Roman London in which the legal aspect of the sale of a wood between two Roman citizens in the early second century AD is discussed.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Property ' in The Cambridge Companion to Roman Law (Cambridge University Press 2015) 175-198
Abstract: Introduction In most textbooks on Roman law, the treatment of the law of property is divided into four topics, namely (i) the types of ‘things’; (ii) the different modes of acquisition and alienation of ownership of property; (iii) ownership and possession; and finally (iv) limited real rights in property. That this division is based on a certain elegant logic cannot be denied. After all, it is only really possible to understand a branch of private law if one understands the scope of that branch of law, the ways in which it functions in relation to the larger legal order, and the rights operating within it. With that said, although this treatment of the Roman law of property is largely based on the original Roman legal sources, it presents a more ordered and settled picture than is visible in those sources. As modern scholarship increasingly begins to acknowledge that Roman legal thought (with specific reference to their logic and understanding of categories) was not necessarily the same as nineteenth-century German legal thought, these basic structures need to be reassessed. As a starting point, two of the most famous teaching manuals on Roman law, the Institutes of Gaius and those of Justinian, will be re-examined. Although these manuals were produced under different circumstances and for different audiences, it is well known that the compilers of Justinian’s Institutes in the sixth century AD used the second-century manual of Gaius as their blueprint. Since both of these works were designed to be introductory teaching manuals setting out the basics of the law, an examination of their content should provide a clearer understanding of the structure of this branch of private law.
Paul J. Du Plessis, 'Introduction ' in New Frontiers (Edinburgh University Press 2014) 1-6
Paul Du Plessis, 'The Prostitute and the Rock ' in Marita Carnelley, Shannon Hoctor, Andre Mukheibir (ed.) De Jure Gentium et Civili (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University 2014) 1-8
Paul Du Plessis, 'Perceptions of Roman Justice ' in Rena van den Bergh (ed.) Meditationes de Iure et Historia (UNISA Press 2014) 216-26
Abstract: This chapter explores the relationship between 'law and books' and 'law in action' in light of one of the famous encounters between Paul, Silas and the Roman Authorities recorded in the New Testament.
Paul J. du Plessis, 'Introduction ' in New frontiers (Edinburgh University Press 2013) 1-5
Paul Du Plessis, 'Damaging a Slave ' in Andrew Burrows, David Johnston, Reinhard Zimmermann (ed.) Judge and Jurist (Oxford University Press 2013) 157-66
Paul Du Plessis, 'Theory and practice in the Roman law of contracts ' in Thomas A. J. McGinn (ed.) Obligations in Roman Law (University of Michigan Press 2013) 131-157
Abstract: One of the enduring qualities of Roman law in the Corpus Iuris Civilis is the level of intellectual abstraction visible in the snippets of juristic writing and Imperial rescripts. This is a testament not only to the Roman legal genius, but also to efficiency of Justinian’s compilers in severing all texts from their original context. Although the lack of context, among other things, was largely responsible for the ease with which the legal rules and terminology of Roman law was grafted into the ius commune of Western Europe, it sometimes obscures the very essence of some of these rules. To that end, this paper will use a single example from the law of urban tenancy, namely the landlord’s hypothec over the tenant’s goods, to argue this point. It will demonstrate that a better understanding of the context in which this rule arose and of its practical application may provide new insights into both Roman law and the European ius commune.
Paul Du Plessis, 'The Infringement of the Corpus as a Form of Iniuria Roman and Medieval Reflections' in Eric Descheemaeker, Helen Scott (ed.) Iniuria and the Common Law (Hart Publishing 2013) 141-53
Paul Du Plessis, 'Notes on a Fire ' in F. Sturm (ed.) Liber Amicorum Guido Tsuno (Vico 2013) 309-16
Abstract: This chapter investigates a seemingly uncontroversial text from the Digest in which Ulpian discusses fire-proofing of a Roman tenement building.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Introduction ' in Paul du Plessis (ed.) New Frontiers (Edinburgh University Press 2013)
Abstract: This brief introduction places the volume in context and explains its rationale. It provides a brief survey of current literature on the subject of “law and society” in the Roman world and sets out the structure of the volume along with the main contributions provides by each of the authors in their chapters.
Paul Du Plessis, 'The Historical Evolution of the Maxim "Sale Breaks Hire" ' in Cornelius Van Der Merwe, Alain-Laurent Verbeke (ed.) Time Limited Interests in Land (Cambridge University Press 2012) 19-32
Paul Du Plessis, '"Liability", "Risk" and locatio conductio ' in Roberto Fiori (ed.) Modelli teorici e metodologici nella storia del diritto privato (Jovene 2011) 63-95
Abstract: This chapter is devoted to an investigation of the use of the terms 'liability' and 'risk' within the context of one of the consensual contracts in Roman law. The author argues that these terms mask a complex scenario of shifting concepts, the development of which is related to the procedure in Roman courts.
John W. Cairns, Paul J. du Plessis, 'Introduction ' in John W. Cairns, Paul J. du Plessis (ed.) The Creation of the Ius Commune (Edinburgh University Press 2010) 1-5
Abstract: The Roman jurists defined what a rule (regula) was. The introduction considers this and relates it to the existing literature, its strengths and weaknesses, and the contributions to the volume.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Towards the Medieval Law of Hypothec ' in John W. Cairns, Paul J. du Plessis (ed.) The Creation of the Ius Commune (Edinburgh University Press 2010) 159-74
Abstract: This chapter investigates the medieval treatment of a rule of law for which there appears to be no justification in the Justinianic compilation of Roman law. By examining medieval justifications for this rule of law it demonstrates a variety of techniques used by the jurists to create general rules of law.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Corporation Theory ' in Mark Bevir (ed.) Encyclopedia of Political Theory (SAGE Publications Ltd 2010) 306-07
Paul Du Plessis, 'Civil Law ' in Mark Bevir (ed.) Encyclopedia of Political Theory (SAGE Publications Ltd 2010) 204-206
Paul Du Plessis, 'Legal History and method(s) ' in Ph. J. Thomas, Rena Van den Bergh, G.J. Van Niekerk, Liezl Wildenboer (ed.) Libellus ad Thomasium (UNISA Press 2010) 47-55
Abstract: This chapter assesses the future of the teaching of Roman law in the context of European legal education. In doing so, it engages with the debate surrounding the harmonisation of private law in Europe.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Roman Law ' in Mark Bevir (ed.) Encyclopedia of Political Theory (SAGE Publications Ltd 2010) 1209-13
Paul Du Plessis, 'Consent ' in Mark Bevir (ed.) Encyclopedia of Political Theory (SAGE Publications Ltd 2010) 279-83
Paul Du Plessis, 'Ius ' in Stanley N Katz (ed.) Oxford International Encyclopaedia of Legal History (Oxford University Press 2009)
Paul Du Plessis, 'Consuetudo ' in Stanley N. Katz (ed.) Oxford International Encyclopaedia of Legal History (Oxford University Press 2009)
Paul Du Plessis, 'The Age of Justinian ' in Stanley N Katz (ed.) Oxford International Encyclopaedia of Legal History (Oxford University Press 2009)
Paul Du Plessis, 'The structure of the Theodosian Code ' in Jean-Jacques Aubert, Philippe Blanchard (ed.) Droit, Religion et Société dans le Code Théodosien (Librairie Droz 2009) 3-17
Abstract: The structure of the Theodosian Code reveals much more about the motives of its drafters than previously thought. It also cast new light on the state of the law and its relation to the society for which it was produced.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Roman Law Persons' in Stanley N Katz (ed.) Oxford International Encyclopaedia of Legal History (Oxford University Press 2009)
Paul Du Plessis, 'Servius Sulpicius Rufus ' in Stanley N. Katz (ed.) Oxford International Encyclopaedia of Legal History (Oxford University Press 2009)
Paul Du Plessis, 'Roman Law Contract' in Stanley N Katz (ed.) Oxford International Encyclopaedia of Legal History (Oxford University Press 2009)
Paul Du Plessis, 'Roman Law Property' in Stanley N Katz (ed.) Oxford International Encyclopaedia of Legal History (Oxford University Press 2009)
Paul Du Plessis, 'Rozwoj doktryny prawniczej w ius commune studium przypadku' in Antoni Dębiński, Maciej Jońca (ed.) Prawo rzymskie a kultura prawna Europy (Catholic University of Lublin Press 2008) 44-71
Abstract: This article is concerned with the history of the right to sublet in the context of the development of legal science in Western Europe. It investigates the origin of this right in Roman law and the problems surrounding it context. After establishing the historical foundations of the right to sublet, this article examines the way in which this legal rule was incorporated into the medieval ius commune – that body of learned law consisting of Roman law, canon law and customary law. The medieval rule on subletting is traced through the history of German legal science until the enactment of the German Civil Code in 1900. The aim of this article is to contribute to the history of the law of lease in Western Europe, a topic on which very little research has been done.
Paul Du Plessis, 'The Development of Legal Doctrine in the ius commune A Case Study' in Antoni Dębiński, Maciej Jońca (ed.) Roman Law and European Legal Culture (Catholic University of Lublin Press 2008) 42-66
Abstract: This chapter investigates the appropriate methodology for writing doctrinal legal history. It assesses the use of the fashionable diachronic comparative method and compares it to the traditional synchronic comparative method using the historical progress of a specific rule of law as a case study.
P. J. Du Plessis, 'The hereditability of locatio conductio ' in John W. Cairns, Paul J. du Plessis (ed.) Beyond Dogmatics (Edinburgh University Press 2008) 139-154
Abstract: What is the relationship between Roman law and the society which produced it? There are two divergent academic views on the issue. On the one hand, Alan Watson has argued that it is too simplistic to assume that a close link between law and society should necessarily exist. On the other hand, John Crook has argued that there is a close relationship between Roman law and society and that many rules of law may be explained in terms of the peculiarities of that society. This chapter tests these two views using a specific area of Roman private law — letting and hiring — one of the consensual contracts which has become a much discussed topic in the last few years. More specifically, it investigates the effect of death of one of the parties on the contract of letting and hiring. The argument is developed in three stages. First, issues of dating is addressed. This is followed by a survey of the legal sources mentioning the effect of the death of the conductor upon the lease. Finally, the legal texts dealing with the effect of the death of the locator are investigated. Roman jurists' treatment of these two issues is used to draw some conclusions concerning the relationship between law and society.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Marcus Tullius Cicero ' in Peter Cane, Joanne Conaghan (ed.) The New Oxford Companion to Law (Oxford University Press 2008)
J. W. Cairns, P. J. Du Plessis, 'Preface ' in Beyond Dogmatics (Edinburgh University Press 2008) 7-8
Abstract: This collection of papers was presented at a conference organised by the Edinburgh Roman Law Group in 2005. This group, the brainchild of the late Peter Birks – a brilliant jurist and sometime Professor of Civil Law in the University of Edinburgh – is an interdisciplinary forum dedicated to the study of civil law and the civilian tradition in its historical context. It attracts a wide audience consisting of students, members of the public and specialists, and it usually meets on three occasions during the course of the academic year within the School of Law, University of Edinburgh. At each of these occasions, the group is addressed by a distinguished scholar in the field. In keeping with the interdisciplinary nature of the Edinburgh Roman Law Group, it seems fitting that the first volume produced by it should also have a wide focus. The theme of this volume is “law and society”, a topic which has attracted much interest in legal scholarship both current and historical during the last decade. The broad aim of this collection is to address two perennial questions within this debate. First, whether law is a product of the society that produces it and, second, whether it should necessarily be assumed that a close relationship between law and society exists. The authors in this volume have taken Roman law, a body of legal rules which has had an enduring influence on much of contemporary private law in Western Europe and elsewhere, as the subject of their investigation.
John W. Cairns, Paul Du Plessis, 'Introduction Themes and Literature' in John W. Cairns, Paul J. du Plessis (ed.) Beyond Dogmatics (Edinburgh University Press 2008) 3-8
Abstract: In 1967, John Crook published Law and Life of Rome. Facing the first page of the introduction, he provocatively placed the invocation “Iuris consultus abesto”. The imperative has been as little obeyed as “vade Satana”. This said, at the time the book was not widely reviewed, and such reception as it had was mixed, despite the fact that in the 1960s, Roman law was a more active field in university law faculties than it has now become. It was thus largely ignored in the traditional journals devoted to Roman law, particularly in those countries where English-language literature was not commonly read. Franz Wieacker, however, reviewed it relatively sympathetically in the Savigny Zeitschrift, recognising the virtues of its interdisciplinary aims. On the other hand, J E Spruit was rather more critical, his review devoted to detailing specific misunderstandings of the law, while ignoring the book's wider interdisciplinary ambitions. Ancient historians were also critical of the book. Gail McKnight Beckmann thought it was too academic and that Crook had missed an opportunity to write a popular work. Works that transgress traditional disciplinary boundaries always attract criticism and challenge; complaints of error in specialist and particular subjects were and are easily made. It is also obvious that those who considered themselves as Roman lawyers did not like the way Crook had organised the material, ignoring traditional understandings of the structure of Roman law. They were uncomfortable with the way law was treated, not as a science of its own, with its own approaches and methodology, but, instead, simply as a branch of ancient history.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Creative Legal Reasoning and Rules of Law A Study in the ius commune' in R. Fiori (ed.) Modelli teorici e metodologici nella storia del diritto privato (Jovene 2008) 193-236
Abstract: This chapter investigates whether it is possible to write the history of a rule of law in the context of the development of the ius commune in Western Europe in the period 1100-1900. It examines the pitfalls associated with such genealogies and argues that more emphasis needs to be placed on dogmatic history as a form of historical enquiry.
Paul Du Plessis, 'Legal transfers and mixed jurisdictions Adventures across the Pond' in Vanessa Duss, Nikolaus Linder, Katrin Kastl, Christina Boerner, Fabienne Hirt, Felix Zusli (ed.) Rechtstransfer in der Geschichte (Meidenbauer Verlag 2006) 382-99
Abstract: Im März 1887 erließ der Supreme Court der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika sein Urteil in der Sache Viterbo v. Friedlander 120 U.S. 707. Der Fall befaßte sich mit dem Antrag auf Beendigung eines Pachtvertrages über eine an den Ufern des Mississippi gelegene Zuckerrohrplantage auf Grund ihrer Überschwemmung. Die Urteilsbegründung des Supreme Court enthielt eine detaillierte historische Analyse der Rechtsverhältnisse zwischen Pächtern und Verpächtern im Staat Louisiana, ausgehend von dessen Civil Code. Dabei wiesen diese Betrachtungen starken zivilistischen Einfluss auf das Pachtrecht in Louisiana im Allgemeinen, und auf das Problem des Pachtzinsnachlasses auf Grund von vis maior im Besonderen nach. Dem übergeordneten Thema der Aufsatzsammlung – Rechtstransfer in der Geschichte – folgend wird der Beitrag den Ausflug des Supreme Court in die kontinentaleuropäische Rechtsgeschichte im Rahmen des Falles Viterbo v. Friedlander nutzen, um ein besonderes Beispiel für einen Rechtstransfer im Pachtrecht von Louisiana näher zu untersuchen. Dabei werden u.a. die Kollision von Rechtsnormen, spanische und französische Einflüsse während der Konsolidierungsphase des Privatrechts von Louisiana, sowie die Motive für die Einbeziehung dieses Prinzips in den Louisiana Civil Code zu erörtern sein.