First Year Focus

Matt Dyson Civil (Roman) Law Video

Dr Matthew Dyson

Civil (Roman) Law I

Roman Law is the only Law subject to have been taught at Cambridge since the Faculty of Law was founded over 700 years ago.

The Romans had the first truly advanced legal system, developing rules and techniques which continue in use today. There are four particular reasons why the study of Roman Law is so useful.

First, it is an excellent opportunity to grasp an entire legal system in a short space of time. Nowadays it is difficult for a lawyer to master more than one area of law, be it Tort, Criminal Law or Contract Law as each has become so complex and intricate. However, in the private law of Rome you can see how a legal system functions organically and thus you can prime the rest of your study of English law.

Second, French, German, Italian and a vast number of other legal systems keep alive many of the Roman legal rules and principles: studying Roman Law gives us a basis for exploring them.

Third, modern legal systems take a lot from the way Roman lawyers reasoned. In particular, they use Roman legal methods to unpick some of the difficult problems that we face today.

Fourth, we learn context, to see the law at any particular moment as living and breathing within society, culture and history.

Further resources » Sample supervision sheet

Stelios Tofaris Tort Law Video

Dr Stelios Tofaris

Tort Law

The Law of Tort is the law that relates to civil wrongdoing, where one person might have a right to sue another person, usually for financial compensation, in the civil courts.

A particular focus of our course is the law of negligence, which imposes a wide-ranging duty on all members of society to take 'reasonable care' not to cause harm to persons whom we might foresee are likely to be affected by our actions.

Other topics studied in the course include the duties owed by occupiers of land to visitors, the obligations not to harm the reputation of others through spoken and written words (the tort of defamation) and the emerging duty to respect the privacy of other citizens.

Tort is a dynamic, developing area of law that requires us to engage in debates about when, and to what extent, the law should intervene to protect certain rights and how the law mediates between the conflicting rights of citizens (eg one person's right to play cricket versus another person's right not to be hit on the head by a cricket ball - a real case example!).

In this course we discuss how these issues can be resolved through rules that meet the standards of clarity, certainty and predictability that we expect from the law.

Further resources » Sample supervision sheet

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