By statute, the courts of Virginia are required to decide cases according to the principles of the English common law. However, they are not forbidden to resort to any other legal system where the common law of England is silent. Moreover, when the English courts themselves have no English law on a particular point, they often look to the Roman law in its ancient or its current form for guidance. Therefore, it is not unreasonable for Virginia courts to do likewise, and in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in fact, they did. The purpose of this essay is to consider how far the Virginia courts have used the Roman law, whether in its ancient form as compiled by the Emperor Justinian in the sixth century A.D., or in its evolved form as the current law of the various countries of continental Europe.

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