Slavery in Scotland: Contemporary Case and Roman Law.

On 12 February, 2019, the High Court of Justiciary issued the opinion of the Apeal Court in John Millar v. Her Majesty’s Advocate [2019] HCJAC7. The appeal arose out of the well publicised trial of “travelling people” for holding some individuals in slavery or servitude. The appellant in particular was convicted for holding a vulnerable man in “servitude”. See the sentencing statement: http://www.scotland-judiciary.org.uk/8/1939/HMA-v-Robert-McPhee–James-McPhee–Steven-McPhee–John-Miller. From the opinion it seems that the trial judge, Lady Stacey, said some interesting things about the property-law type definition of slavery in international law, in charging the jury, and withdrawing from them the possibility of a finding slavery.  I may return to this later, having been on the research network that produced the Bellagio-Harvard Guidelines on the Legal Parameters of Slavery. Greater reflection on the case, and its citation of Siliadin, will be necessary before I can do that. But here I just want to note that counsel for the appellant, in developing their argument, cited Justinian’s Digest in support, D. 48.15.6.2. This is a text, expounding the Lex Fabia on kidnapping, in which the jurist Callistratus discusses forcing a free man to act against his will and putting him in fetters. It in fact direct reflected the situation in which the victim found himself.

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