About a mysterious box and the liability for accidental events 250 years ago

Law Senior Common Room
Arts and Law, Research
Thursday 9th March 2017 (14:00-15:00)
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Global Legal Studies group: Professor Bernd Kannowski (Bayreuth)


My paper will deal with a decision of the old Holy Roman Empire's Supreme Court ("Reichskammergericht") from the middle of the 18th century regarding a cause célèbre of those days. With the background of the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 it concerns legal problems from a field we might consider as tort law today ("Deliktsrecht" or "Recht der unerlaubten Handlung" in German) deriving from the actio legis Aquiliae from Roman law as it is found in the ius commune from the Middle Ages  onwards until Early Modern Times and at least in principle in some Continental legal systems still today. The background is a story about a valuable packet that was mistakenly mixed up with another and accordingly not transported to its actual destination (which was London) but to Lisbon (where it was destroyed as a result of the said earthquake). As you can see, the case has an English and an international dimension as well. Legal topics are the ever so often tricky questions of causality and responsibility, which is presumably relevant for all jurists wherever in the world they may work. Moreover, it is about certain principles of Roman law which seem to have a certain inherent  persuasiveness so that they maybe always apply, regardless of the legal system we are in.