1 1Rick Verhagen first Inhaber des Lehrstuhls Internationaal privaatrecht , rechtsvergelijking en burgerlijk recht an der Faculteit der Rechtsgeleerdheid, Radboud Universiteit, Postbus 9049, 6500 KK Nijmegen, The Netherlands;, Email: email@example.com
The writing tablets discovered in 1959 near Pompeii (Tabulae Pompeianae Sulpiciorum or Tabulae Pompeianae Novae) provide a unique and extremely valuable insight into the 'law in action' in the Roman Empire of the first century AD. In particular, these tablets allow us to assess the functioning of the law of secured finance, as it was applied by the Sulpicii family and other commercial lenders in the seaport town of Puteoli (Pozzuoli). The focus of this article is on the enforcement of a right of pledge in case of default by the debtor. In particular, it discusses whether the creditor then acquired ownership of the pledged property or whether he was only entitled to suspend his obligation to return the pledged property to the debtor. It is argued that the most likely interpretation of the writing tablets is that the creditor acquired ownership when the debtor defaulted and that this enabled him to sell the property at auction or otherwise.