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- The Institutes of Justinian - 40/41 -

title of heir who thinks he is an heir; he is deemed to hold as mere possessor who relies on no title at all, but holds a portion of the whole of the inheritance, knowing that he is not entitled. It is called an interdict for obtaining possession, because it is available only for initiating possession; accord- ingly, it is not granted to a person who has already had and lost possession. Another interdict for obtaining possession is that named after Salvius, by which the landlord gets pos- session of the tenant’s property which has been hypothecated as a security for rent. 4 The interdicts ‘Uti possidetis’ and ‘Utrubi’ are interdicts for retaining possession, and are em- ployed when two parties claim ownership in anything, in order to determine which shall be defendant and which plain- tiff; for no real action can be commenced until it is ascer- tained which of the parties is in possession, because law and reason both require that one of them shall be in possession and shall be sued by the other. As the role of defendant in a real action is far more advantageous than that of plaintiff, there is almost invariably a keen dispute as to which party is to have possession pending litigation: the advantage consist- ing in this, that, even if the person in possession has no title as owner, the possession remains to him unless and until the plaintiff can prove his own ownership: so that where the rights of the parties are not clear, judgement usually goes against the plaintiff. Where the dispute relates to the pos- session of land or buildings, the interdict called ‘Uti possidetis’ is employed; where to movable property, that called ‘Utrubi.’ Under the older law their effects were very different. In ‘Uti possidetis’ the party in possession at the issue of the interdict was the winner, provided he had not obtained that possession from his adversary by force, or clandestinely, or by permission; whether he had obtained it from some one else in any of these modes was immaterial. In ‘Utrubi’ the winner was the party who had been in possession the greater portion of the year next immediately preceding, provided that posses- sion had not been obtained by force, or clandestinely, or by permission, from his adversary. At the present day, however, the practice is different, for as regards the right to immediate possession the two interdicts are now on the same footing; the rule being, that whether the property in question be movable or immovable, the possession is adjudged to the party who has it at the commencement of the action, provided he had not obtained it by force, or clandestinely, or by permission, from his adversary. 5 A man’s possession includes, besides his own personal possession, the possession of any one who holds in his name, though not subject to his power; for instance, his tenant. So also a depositary or borrower for use may possess for him, as is expressed by the saying that we retain possession by any one who holds in our name. Moreover, mere intention suffices for the retention of possession; so that although a man is not in actual possession either himself or through another, yet if it was not with the intention of abandoning the thing that he left it, but with that of subse- quently returning to it, he is deemed not to have parted with the possession. Through what persons we can obtain possession has been explained in the second Book; and it is agreed on all hands that for obtaining possession intention alone does not suffice. 6 An interdict for recovering possession is granted to persons who have been forcibly ejected from land or buildings; their proper remedy being the interdict ‘Unde vi,’ by which the ejector is compelled to restore possession, even though it had been originally obtained from him by the grantee of the interdict by force, clandestinely, or by permission. But by imperial constitutions, as we have already observed, if a man violently seizes on property to which he has a title, he forfeits his right of owner- ship; if on property which belongs to some one else, he has not only to restore it, but also to pay the person whom he has violently dispossessed a sum of money equivalent to its value. In cases of violent dispossession the wrongdoer is liable under the lex Iulia relating to private or public violence, by the former being meant unarmed force, by the latter dispos- session effected with arms; and the term ‘arms’ must be taken to include not only shields, swords, and helmets, but also sticks and stones. 7 Thirdly, interdicts are divided into simple and double. Simple interdicts are those wherein one party is plaintiff and the other defendant, as is always the case in orders of restitution or production; for he who demands restitution or production is plaintiff, and he from whom it is demanded is defendant. Of interdicts which order ab- stention some are simple, others double. The simple are exemplified by those wherein the praetor commands the defendant to abstain from desecrating consecrated ground, or from obstructing a public river or its banks; for he who demands such order is the plaintiff, and he who is attempting to do the act in question is defendant. Of double interdicts we have examples in Uti possidetis and Utrubi; they are called double because the footing of both parties is equal, neither being exclusively plaintiff or defendant, but each sus- taining the double role.

8 To speak of the procedure and result of interdicts under the older law would now be a waste of words; for when the procedure is what is called ‘extraordinary,’ as it is nowadays in all actions, the issue of an interdict is unnecessary, the matter being decided without any such preliminary step in much the same way as if it had actually been taken, and a modified action had arisen on it.


It should here be observed that great pains have been taken by those who in times past had charge of the law to deter men from reckless litigation, and this is a thing that we too have at heart. The best means of restraining unjustifiable litigation, whether on the part of a plaintiff or of a defendant, are money fines, the employment of the oath, and the fear of infamy. 1 Thus under our constitution, the oath has to be taken by every defendant, who is not permitted even to state his defence until he swears that he resists the plaintiff’s claim because he believes that his cause is a good one. In certain cases where the defendant denies his liability the action is for double or treble the original claim, as in pro- ceedings on unlawful damages, and for recovery of legacies bequeathed to religious places. In various actions the damages are multiplied at the outset; in an action on theft detected in the commission they are quadrupled; for simple theft they are doubled; for in these and some other actions the damages are a multiple of the plaintiff’s loss, whether the defendant denies or admits the claim. Vexatious litigation is checked on the part of the plaintiff also, who under our constitution is obliged to swear on oath that his action is commenced in good faith; and similar oaths have to be taken by the advocates of both parties, as is prescribed in other of our enactments. Owing to these substitutes the old action of dishonest litigation has become obsolete. The effect of this was to penalize the plaintiff in a tenth part of the value he claimed by action; but, as a matter of fact, we found that the penalty was never exacted, and therefore its place has been taken by the oath above mentioned, and by the rule that a plaintiff who sues without just cause must compensate his opponent for all losses incurred, and also pay the costs of the action. 2 In some actions condemnation carries infamy with it, as in those on theft, robbery, outrage, fraud, guardianship, agency, and deposit, if direct, not contrary; also in the action on partnership, which is always direct, and in which infamy is incurred by any partner who suffers condemnation. In actions on theft, robbery, outrage, and fraud, it is not only infamous to be condemned, but also to compound, as indeed is only just; for obligation based on delict differs widely from obli- gation based on contract.

3 In commencing an action, the first step depends upon that part of the Edict which relates to summons; for before any- thing else is done, the adversary must be summoned, that is to say, must be called before the judge who is to try the action. And herein the praetor takes into consideration the respect due to parents, patrons, and the children and parents of patrons, and refuses to allow a parent to be summoned by his child, or a patron by his freedman, unless permission so to do has been asked of and obtained from him; and for non- observance of this rule he has fixed a penalty of fifty solidi.


Finally we have to treat of the duties of a judge; of which the first is not to judge contrary to statutes, the imperial laws, and custom. 1 Accordingly, if he is trying a noxal action, and thinks that the master ought to be condemned, he should be careful to word his judgement thus: ‘I condemn Publius Maevius to pay ten aurei to Lucius Titius, or to surrender to him the slave that did the wrong.’ 2 If the action is real, and he finds against the plaintiff, he ought to absolve the defendant; if against the latter, he ought to order him to give up the property in question, along with its fruits. If the defendant pleads that he is unable to make immediate restitution and applies for execution to be stayed, and such application appears to be in good faith, it should be granted upon the terms of his finding a surety to guarantee payment of the damages assessed, if restitution be not made within the time allowed. If the subject of the action be an inheritance, the same rule applies as regards fruits as we laid down in speaking of actions for the recovery of single objects. If the defendant is a mala fide possessor, fruits which but for his own negligence he might have gathered are taken into account in much the same way in both actions; but a bona fide possessor is not held answerable for fruits which he has not consumed or has not gathered, except from the moment of the commencement of the action, after which time account is taken as well of fruits which might have been gathered but for his negligence as of those which have been gathered and consumed. 3 If the object of the action be production of property, its mere pro- duction by the defendant is not enough, but it must be ac- companied by every advantage derived from it; that is to say, the plaintiff must be placed in the same position he would have been in if production had been made immediately on the commencement of the action. Accordingly if, during the delay occasioned by trial, the possessor has completed a title to the property by usucapion, he will not be thereby saved from being condemned. The judge ought also to take into account the mesne profits, or fruits produced by the property in the interval between the commencement of the action and judgement. If the defendant pleads that he is unable to make immediate production, and applies for a stay, and such application appears to be in good faith, it should be granted on his giving security that he will render up the property. If he neither complies at once with the

The Institutes of Justinian - 40/41

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