Professor Paul J. du Plessis
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.