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About the Centre for Legal History

The Centre for Legal History provides a lively social and scholarly focus for the active research community – faculty members, postdoctoral researchers, and postgraduate students - in legal history, including Civil (Roman) law, in the School of Law. The University has a long tradition in the field, as the Chair of Civil Law was founded in 1710, with Civil Law taught continuously in the University since then.

The Centre has a reputation for success in postgraduate study. Major interests pursued are Roman law, the learned laws in the Middle Ages, the history of law in Europe, the history of Scots law, and legal history in Louisiana. The interests of the Centre avoid a narrow focus on law as rules, and research is typically comparative and interdisciplinary, drawing on a wide range of sources. The location of the Centre in one of the world’s leading research universities, with access to excellent resources and research collections not only in the University but also in the city of Edinburgh, make it an ideal location for legal historical research.

Edinburgh Law School is a thriving and world-class academic research community, which is enhanced by regular intellectual exchanges with colleagues from the across the UK and internationally. The Centre for Legal History welcomes scholars who work in the field and who want to spend time within the Centre.

Learn more about the programmes for academic visitors at Edinburgh Law School

The Centre for Legal History routinely receives requests from law librarians of various law firms in Edinburgh and elsewhere to assist with the translation and interpretation of legal documents from the medieval and early-modern period in Scotland. As experts in Scottish and European legal history from the medieval period onwards, the members of the centre are able to assist with legal queries of the following kind

  • Translation and interpretation of old legal documents (Scottish and European)
  • Interpretation of old case law and precedent in Scotland (especially in the early-modern period)
  • Locating legal documents in various archives in Scotland and transcribing these
  • Expert legal opinions where legal history forms a core part of the argument

Read more about the Centre for Legal History's consultancy services (PDF)

Support the Centre for Legal History 

The Centre for Legal History is a research centre within the School of Law, University of Edinburgh. If you wish to support the Centre or its events, you can donate via the University of Edinburgh’s Development Office or email the director of the Centre, Prof Paul J du Plessis at

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