The Role of Roman Slaves and Innovations in Commercial Law Principles
The purpose of this article is to present the evolution of commercial law principles through the study of Roman laws defining slave status and duties to its master in Roman social ideal and economic contexts. Slaves had played important roles in driving Roman economy although they were regarded by the law as living machine or thing (res) owned by their masters and were at the bottom of the Roman social class. Roman laws laid down principles relating to the slave’s property status, the slave-master relationship, the binding effect of commercial agreements and the master’s limited liability to the third-party concerning businesses conducted by slave on behalf of its masters. The traces of these principles can be found in today's commercial laws of agency and corporation’s limited liability principles. Aside from endorsing Roman social ideals and values, these legal principles ensured merchants with greater trust and flexibility in using slaves to run businesses for the benefits of their masters.