Chapter

The Concept of a Civil Wrong

BIRKS PETER

in The Philosophical Foundations of Tort Law

Published in print July 1997 | ISBN: 9780198265795
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682971 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198265795.003.0002
The Concept of a Civil Wrong

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This chapter is concerned with the common law, but it has a Roman beginning. By starting from the Roman analysis in which it had its origin, one can most easily set out the common law classification in which civil wrongs, or torts, form one important category. The concept of a civil wrong cannot be investigated other than in the context of that classification. The second-century jurist Gaius was the first to advance the proposition that every obligation arises from a contract, a wrong, or from some other causal event. However, he saw that that would not do, for there were indisputable instances of legal obligation handed down from the unsystematic past which arose from neither. The obligation to return a mistaken payment was a prominent example. The threefold classification – contracts, wrongs, and other events – was not the end of the Roman story. The miscellaneous third category posed a challenge.

Keywords: common law; torts; civil wrong; classification; Gaius; obligation; contracts; wrongs; events

Chapter.  10855 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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