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Oxford University Press - Online Resource Centres

Du Plessis: Borkowski's Textbook on Roman Law 5e

Essay questions

I have included the following essay-style questions to act as a counterweight to the MCQs that appear elsewhere on this site. I have purposely not provided the answers to these questions as some of them are old exam questions of mine and, were I to provide worked-out answers, they would be rendered useless to me. In each case I have provided 3 questions. There are no specimen questions for chapter 1 and chapter 11 as much will depend on the type of course taught.

Chapter 1: Introduction: Rome - a historical sketch

As this chapter is a historical introduction, it may not be actively assessed in an exam, but if it is then the following guidance notes may provide some support:

  1. It is important to get an overview of the 3 main periods (Monarchy, Republic, Empire).
  2. For each of these periods, concentrate on the state of the law and the main legal changes which occurred during each period.
  3. As for the Republic and the Empire, both cover long periods of time. The most important periods for the purposes of legal development are the late Republic and early Empire.
  4. Given that much of our information is drawn from Justinian?s compilation, an appreciation of Justinian?s Empire is important.
  5. Finally, when preparing this chapter, think of the broader relationship between law and society.

Chapter 2: The sources of Roman law

  1. Explain the relationship between the law as portrayed in the Digest and in the Codex.
  2. The rise of a class of professional jurists was an important catalyst in the development of Roman law. Discuss.
  3. What sort of work is the Institutes of Justinian? What was its purpose and significance?

Chapter 3: Roman litigation

  1. Discuss the execution of the judgement in the formulary procedure.
  2. Explain the nature of the procedure ?at law? (in iure) down to litis contestatio. Indicate the significance of each stage with reference to the main parts of the formula.
  3. List and discuss the actions at law that could be used to bring a lawsuit.

Chapter 4: Status, slavery, and citizenship

  1. Why did praetors create so many actions based on the transactions of slaves? List and discuss these.
  2. What is patriapotestas and how did it affect the status and legal capacity of children in power?
  3. Explain how the legal reforms during the reigns of Augustus and Justinian respectively changed the law on manumission.

Chapter 5: The Roman family

  1. Discuss the evolution of the Roman law on divorce. Your answer should cover all aspects of divorce including the dowry.
  2. Discuss the consequences of a marriage with manus and without manus.
  3. Explain the remedies available to the ward against his guardian.

Chapter 6: Interests in property

  1. What role did possession play in Roman property law?
  2. Explain the distinction between praedial and personal servitudes.
  3. Explain the requirements for dominium.

Chapter 7: Acquiring ownership

  1. Discuss the requirements of mancipatio. What role did it play in the acquisition of ownership?
  2. Explain the scope and function of the actio publiciana.
  3. Explain the requirements of specificatio. How does it relate to accessio?

Chapter 8: Inheritance

  1. Explain the order of succession upon intestacy under the 12 Tables. What does this order reveal about early Roman law?
  2. Explain how the bonorum possessio system could be used to alter the original order of succession.
  3. List and explain the different types of heirs under the Roman law of inheritance.

Chapter 9: Obligations and contracts

  1. Explain the development of the seller?s responsibility for latent defects.
  2. Compare and contrast the contract of mandate with the legal measures developed by the praetors to deal with the activities of servile agents.
  3. List and explain the requirements of negotiorum gestio.

Chapter 10: Delict

  1. Discuss the phenomena of theft of use and of possession. Under which circumstances would such forms of theft occur?
  2. Explain the scope and application of fraud and duress as praetorian delicts.
  3. List and explain the praetorian changes to the scope of the lex Aquilia.

Chapter 11: Roman law and the European ius commune

  1. The legacy of Roman law in the Dark Ages ? Topics which should be covered here include the fate of Roman law, the separation between the West and the Byzantine Empire and the role of the Church.
  2. The revival of Roman law in the Late Medieval Period ? Topics which should be covered here include the reasons for the revival, the various Schools of Jurists and their contributions, the rise of Canon law.
  3. Roman law and the rise of the Nation state ? Topics which should be covered here include the fragmenting of the 'common law' of Europe and the phases of reception, the differing levels of reception in different countries and the reasons for that, the impact of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation