Robert Joseph Pothier (1699-1772)

Robert Joseph Pothier (January 9, 1699 – March 2, 1772) was a French jurist.

He was born and died at Orléans, France and is buried in the Cathedral of Orleans. He studied law to qualify for the magistracy, and was appointed Judge in 1720 of the Presidial Court of Orléans, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He held the post for fifty-two years.

Pothier paid particular attention to the correction and co-ordination of the text of the Pandects. His Pandectae Justinianae in novum ordinem digestae (Paris and Chartres, 1748-1752) is a classic in the study of Roman law. In 1749 he was made professor of law at the University of Orleans.

He wrote many learned monographs on French law, and much of his work was incorporated almost textually in the French Code Civil. His theories on the law of contract were influential in England as well as in the USA.

Pothier devised a law limiting recovery in the case of improper performance of a contractual obligation to those damages which are foreseeable.

His numerous treatises include:

  • Traité des obligations (1761)
  • Du Contrat de vente (1762)
  • Du Contrat de bail (1764)
  • Du Contrat de société (1765)
  • Des Contrats de prêt de consomption (1766)
  • Du Contrat de depot et de mandat (1766)
  • Du Contrat de nantissement (1767)

His works have been published in collected form on several occasions, the first edited by Giffrein in 1820-1824.

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