Inaugural Lecture Chair of Roman Law Paul J du Plessis

On 10th October, 2018, Professor Paul du Plessis gave his inaugural lecture in his Chair of Roman Law in the Playfair Libraryin Old College. The lecture was chaired by the Head of the School of Law, Professor Martin Hogg. The thrust of his argument concerned Roman law and its place in legal education in Scotland. As part of legal history more generally, he argued that our modern engagement with Roman law as a body of knowledge in Scotland had become dominated by contemporary narratives created in the 20th century in European legal history to justify the continued study of Roman law post codification. Since codification never occurred in Scotland, Roman law, therefore, fulfils a different function as the bulk of the unenacted Scottish “common law”. To study this body of law properly, we need an understanding of its history. And if we are to study history, then we need to be sensitive to modern debates about the nature of history and its purpose. We cannot continue with determinist ideas of history rooted in the 19th century.