The rise and fall of communal liability in ancient law

Francesco Parisi, Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


In ancient societies, rules of communal responsibility permitted the imposition of retaliatory sanctions on a wrongdoer's clan. These rules followed the collective ownership structure of early communities. Over time, notions of personal responsibility emerged, terminating the transfer of responsibility from one member to the whole clan. This paper intends to provide an economic explanation for this transition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-505
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Review of Law and Economics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • Ancient law
  • Communal liability
  • Group liability
  • Primitive society
  • Tort


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