Agree to Disagree: Local Jurisdiction in the Lex Irnitana
JUDGE AND JURIST: ESSAYS IN MEMORY OF LORD RODGER OF EARLSFERRY, A. Burrows, D. Johnston, R. Zimmermann, eds., pp. 207-225, Oxford, 2013
20 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2016
Date Written: January 14, 2016
The lex Irnitana (AD 91) is one of our principal sources for Roman civil procedure during the classical period. In character it is a municipal charter for a municipium in Baetica. It contains extensive provisions on the conduct of civil lawsuits, and among its most contested provisions is Chapter 84 on jurisdiction.
The main point of disagreement: was it possible only to have 'small lawsuits' heard locally, or might the parties, by agreement, consent to have lawsuits of substantial value heard also? The disagreement is of much greater significance than this single inscription might suggest: Roman civil procedure underwent revolutionary reforms in 17 BC, and 'consent to jurisdiction' was one of these reforms. This inscription is the most important clue to these reforms.
This article argues that local litigants, by consent, might indeed have significant lawsuits heard locally. The article examines the construction of Chapter 84, and concludes (1) that Chapter 84 has suffered from an error in redaction, specifically, that a large section of text was inserted by the draftsman in the wrong place, and (2) that one portion of Chapter 84 was poorly restored by its earliest editors, in such a way that the printed text makes no sense.
Keywords: Roman law, Roman civil procedure, jurisdiction
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation