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Roman Law

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Other than engineering, another area where the Romans achieved great success in the ancient times was law, which until today is functioning to a large extent throughout the world (Karakocali, 2007). Roman Law which was in effect use during the antiquity’s age in the City of Rome and soon after in the Roman Empire. The end of Roman rule in Europe saw Roman Law being mostly-although not utterly-forgotten. However, the law was rediscovered again in Italy during the 11 century’s second half. This paper presents a discussion as to why we study Roman Law.

At first was only taught and studied at the university level with Bologna as the first place to experience studies in Roman Law. Shortly Roman Law started being applied within legal practice, particularly in the filed of civil law. Consequently re-adoption of these law happened at different times and to diverse extents across the whole Europe with England as the most significant exception (Zimmerman, 2001). Nevertheless, during the process of reception/adoption countless Roman Rules were merged with, or revised to suit, various European nations’ legal norms. Hence Roman rules currently in use in Europe, were in no way similar to Roman Law from Antiquity. However the law was referred to as ius commune (common law) as this evolved law had become common to many European nations. Roman law, as ius commune, was enforced in many jurisdictions till national codes outdated these rules in 19th and 18th centuries. Accordingly from almost 11th century until today, Roman Law was in force all over most of Europe and its effects influence on European Private Law Systems still exists.

Zimmerman (2001) observes that Roman Laws form most of what is functioning today throughout the whole world. It is obvious that there is no independent human existence totally isolated from the past, today’s generation can not freely fashion their own subsistence, entailing the laws. Consequently the current generation has to always and essentially do it within binding community with the whole past, and except if the present states want to be involuntarily ruled by the past, it has to be explored so that there is a clear understanding of how we reached where we are. For this reason studying Roman Law today gives professors, legislators and judges a foundation upon which they build shared values and find a general understanding of the common principles and legal methods concerning the new ius commune. 

Historical scholarship especially studies in Roman Law has to a great extent enabled us take stock of current legal condition. It could also aid us to work out and be familiar with the common ground that still exists within the current national legal systems due to a common tradition, of autonomy but parallel progresses, and to occasions of intellectual motivation or the reception of legal concepts or rules (Schiller, 1978).

Additionally, studies help us to explain inconsistencies on the level of particular outcome, doctrinal nuance and general approach. This kind of understanding paves way for organic development and rational criticism of the law. Even though the past neither justifies itself nor has the solutions for current problems its understanding is an initial and essential qualification for developing the most suitable solutions (Zimmerman, 2001). Within a particular national legal system, this is true, just like if is for the creation of the European law. Consequently, in the same way legal history updates the progress of private law doctrine in a given case, it forms the foundation for the comparative scholarship within the other. Studies in Roman Law gives especially European private law, the combination of historical and comparative scholarship it requires.

The influence of Roman Law in today’s legal institutions throughout the whole world is not in doubt. Roman Law’s spirit still lives today because the foundation of European civilization lies within it. It is from Rome that the world ha inherited the model of Law itself, of the Family and of the State. The current firm, secure, high, legal position not only in American and European civilization but in most parts of the world is a legacy originating from the Roman Law (Schiller, 1978). Due to this the study of Roman Law is very important because most of its values are being felt in almost all corners of the world. The study is therefore not only important in the study of legal systems alone but also in other sectors of national administration.

To sum up the whole discussion about why we currently study Roman Law, it has to be most importantly understood that it has the development of law in a majority of Western civilization. The law basically dealt with issues of inheritance (succession), property, persons and obligations. Most of these laws were enacted by assemblies subjugated the patrician families, although the rulings of the magistrates were also significant. The significance of study of Roman Law today is encompassed in three core reasons. Firs t of all Roman Law merited an outstanding position because it was the most produce of Roman civilization. Secondly Roman Law threw significant light upon the world history, particularly upon the development of the European legal and political institutions. Lastly it is strongly believed that Roman Law provided the best illustration of the principles concerned with general jurisprudence.

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