The Roman law refers to the legal system that the ancient Romans used as well as the legal developments that took place before 7th century AD; it forms the basis for the modern civil law. The law developed continuously over a large historical period - more than one thousand years from Twelve Tables of 439 BC to Corpus Juris Civilis in 529 AD and served in the Eastern Roman Empire (Mattila 2006). The law, also, formed the basis for legal practice in Europe, Ethiopia and most of the former European nations’ colonies.
The law is divided into written, jus scriptum, and unwritten, jus non-scriptum, law. The constitution (mos maiorum) was unwritten and contained principles and guidelines that they passed down through examples. The written law is drawn from legislation sources such as acts, senate resolutions, imperial laws and constitutions, magistrates’ edicts and jurists’ interpretations and responses (Matilla 2006).
Today, the Roman law, is not applied in legal practice, although many aspects of the society today have been affected by ancient Rome, including the creation of law. However, the old lus commune still forms the basis of some legal systems for some states like San Marino and South Africa. The law has also influenced the development of legal systems for most European nations. Even those who base their legal practice on a code, still derive and apply many rules from the Roman law. For instance, the block voting system, used in the Electoral College, in the U.S., originate from ideas in the Roman constitution (Mobile Reference 2008).
In conclusion, the Roman law still remains a crucial part of the legal practice in the society. Therefore, it is particularly vital to acquire the knowledge of this law for one to understand the current legal systems in use.