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date: 09 December 2023



  • David Johnston


A Roman testator could choose, in disposing of his estate, between the formal methods of the *ius civile (civil law), will and legacy, and the informal device of fideicommissum (roughly ‘trust’); or he could combine the two. Originally the fideicommissum was simply a request by the testator to a person who benefited from his estate to transfer part of it or even the whole estate to another person; and any force which that request had was purely moral. *Augustus, however, charged the consuls with enforcing certain fideicommissa; two standing praetors for trusts (later reduced to one) came into being under *Claudius. The procedure employed was the new extraordinary one (cognitio extra ordinem). One of the initial attractions of fideicommissa was that they could benefit those (such as foreigners and the proscribed (see proscription)) unable to become heirs or legatees. But this possibility was progressively restricted; and the consuls are in any event unlikely to have allowed the proscribed to claim their fideicommissa.


  • Roman Law

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