Some Remarks on Private Delict Theft in Roman Law
The Roman jurists avoided generalizations and abstract definitions. The law of delict originated in private vengeance. A delict was a private wrong and yet the actio poenalis served to penalize the wrongdoer. Theft is recognized as a criminal offence all over the world, but its scope differs considerably from that of its Roman ancestor. Very little of the Roman law relating to furtum has made its way into our modern legal systems. Mere furtum usus constituted theft also furtum possessionis and theft comprised what we have just referred to as embezzlement. Yet, certain instances of fraud were also taken to constitute theft. It was a physical contact between thief and the stolen property that could be described as contrectatio and the thief acted with the intention of making an unlawful gain. (original abstract)
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