Lex Aquilia

Torts =Delicts

Date: 286 to 195 B.C. Promulgated by Tribune of the Plebians Aquilius

1. 1st Chapter:   to kill (occidere)

If anyone kills unlawfully a slave or servant-girl belonging to someone else, or a four-footed beast of the class of cattle, let him be condemned to pay the owner the highest value that the property had attained during the preceding year.

2.  3rd Chapter urere, frangere, rumpere

In the case of all other things apart from slaves or cattle that have been killed, if anyone does damage to another by wrongfully burning, breaking, or spoiling (userit, fregerit, ruperit) his property, let him be condemned to pay the owner whatever the damage shall prove to be worth in the next thirty days.


1st Chapter: 9.2.21, (p. 79) 9.2.2 (p. 71):  highest worth in the last year.  Many other contingencies could be considered, 9.2.23 (p. 80).

3rd Chapter: what does quanti ea res erit in diebus triginta proximis ( mean?  Does it mean the entire value, partial value, highest value?  Do the thirty days mean before or after the wounding?  Daube believes that 30 days after and only damages.  Later the law was extended to objects, then the interpretation of, whatever the highest value in the last thirty days became important.  9.2.7 demonstrates that the jurists extended damages to healing costs and lost labor.

Chapter three:  

urere: (p. 83)
rumpere: (p. 84-85)

Chapter One:

Class of Cattle: Dig. 9.2.2 (p. 71)

The jurists rapidly expanded the meaning of these terms and the cases in which damage could be claimed.  Ulpian defined the terms in 18th book Ad edictum: occidere:; 9; (p. 72-73) 11.1-5 (p. 76).  Ulpian defines occidere in (p. 73) as being necessary with force.  But also defines it as when (p. 74) someone drops or throws something and kills, and if a doctor operates unskillfully (p. 75).  Ulpian 9.2.9 distinguishes between delivering the cause of death with one's own hands or providing the cause.  Celsus makes the distinction between direct and indirect cause of death.

The republican jurists had already extended the meaning of iniuria (unlawfully) to culpa (negligence). (p. 72) and Gaius Inst. 3.211. Gaius interprets dolus (fault) as being intentional and with malice; culpa is negligence. In contrast to the other delicts where only dolus is actionable, the Lex Aquilia recognizes culpa levissima: 9.2.44 (p. 96). Negligence is first developed in the Lex Aquilia and only later extended to other areas of law.

Modern continental law recognizes negligence when a person is able to recognize the unlawfulness of his behavior and could have had the opportunity to act otherwise.

The Roman jurists leaned towards a universal measure later called the Homo constans. e.g. 9.2.31. Homo diligens; paterfamilias diligens.

Special problems of causation: when many people cause a death

2. Principles that Lead to a Dismissal of the Case

I. Self-defense 9.2.4;; Self-defense can be excessive: 9.2.5;

II. . Necessity: Dig. and

III. Guilt: iniuria, dolus (intentional wrongdoing) and culpa (fault) Intentionality

p. 75: Javelin Thrower
p. 76: Barber
p. 91: Homo constans; pruning branches, working
p.73:  Teacher and Pupil