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delict  

Maria Floriana Cursi

“Delict” (delictum) is, in Roman law, a private wrong, as opposed to a public wrong called “crime” (crimen). Notwithstanding its private nature, in the beginning the consequence of a delict was a penalty whose function was fundamentally punitive, because of the intentional conduct of the wrongdoer (dolus). However, at the end of the Republic, and simultaneously with the rise of the notion of negligence (culpa), an additional compensatory function was introduced.In classical Roman law, four types of private wrongs (delicta) existed: bodily injury and insult (iniuria), theft (furtum), damage to property (damnum iniuria datum), and theft committed by means of violence (rapina) (Gai. Inst. 3.182).The historical formation of this scheme is unclear. Private wrongs are certainly ancient, but the first evidence in the sources dates back only as far as the 5th century bce, in the Twelve Tables, which deal mostly with bodily injury and theft.