These English forms of action stand in rather stark contrast to developments on the continent. Even by late Roman times, actions had merged with obligations (Dig 44.7) and the emphasis was more and more on the systematisation of iura themselves increasingly being viewed as ‘rights’ attaching to the individual (persona, individuum). Nevertheless, this does not mean that the Roman forms of action have not left their mark on the codes. The law of contract remains divided into named and unnamed contracts, which is a hangover from the different species of contractual actions in Roman law, and these old Roman forms are to be found elsewhere in private law (see, for example, CC, Arts 1372, 1376). In addition, the ‘multiplicity of special proceedings deriving from the different legal transactions and situations of substantive law’ is ‘an unfortunate holdover from the old system of forms of action’ (Vescovi, IECL, Vol XVI, Chapter 6, para 381). Such special proceedings (actions) include the difference between possessory and revindication claims, commercial and ordinary proceedings, marital disputes, minors and guardianship and so on. Even more modern civilian thinking cannot always escape from distinctions between public and private actions, ordinary and summary proceedings or contentious and non-contentious jurisdiction (Vescovi, paras 382–85). Actions may have given way to a law of subjective rights, but beneath these rights, and their remedies, are to be found the traces, if not structures, of older forms of claim. THE ROLE OF LEGAL CATEGORIES (a) Introduction
In Roman law, the institutional system acted not just as a means of linking the social and the legal worlds: it also acted as the basis for legal classification. Law was to be divided into three areas, each representing the institutional emphasis: the law of persons, the law of things and the law of actions. Within
Lord Goff:… In France, as in other civil law countries, civil matters are
categorised as a matter of substance and are regarded as limited to private law
matters, excluding public law matters and in particular fiscal matters.