Qualitative Liability in the Early Modern Low Countries (ca. 1425–1650)

In: Grotiana
Wouter DruwéResearch Unit Roman Law and Legal History, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium,

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In his ‘Inleidinge tot de Hollantsche Rechtsgeleertheyt’, Hugo Grotius introduced the concept of wrong-by-construction-of-law (‘misdaed door wetsduidinge’), the idea that civil law could assign liability to someone who had not committed any fault, i.e. merely because of his or her ‘capacity’ or ‘quality’ as a parent, as an owner of an animal, as an inhabitant of a building, or as an employer or shipowner. This contribution situates Grotius’s views on qualitative liability within the wider Netherlandish learned juridical context of his time, and especially studies the role of fault (‘culpa’) and presumptions of fault in the learned theories on qualitative liability. Apart from printed treatises and volumes of consilia, this contribution also takes into account hitherto unstudied handwritten lecture notes of the late medieval and early modern university of Leuven.

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