Robert Joseph Pothier

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Bas relief of Pothier from the chambers of the United States House of Representatives. Sculpted by Joseph Kiselewski in 1950

Robert Joseph Pothier (9 January 1699 – 2 March 1772) was a French jurist.[1]

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.[2]

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.[2]

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[3] as well as in the United States.

Traités des contrats aléatoires, 1767.

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:[2]

  • 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.[2]


  1. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Robert Joseph Pothier". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  2. ^ a b c d  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Pothier, Robert Joseph". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  3. ^ Furmston, Michael; Cheshire, Geoffrey Chevalier; Fifoot, Cecil Herbert Stuart. Cheshire, Fifoot and Furmston's Law of Contract (Seventeenth ed.). Oxford. p. 22. ISBN 9780198747383. OCLC 989520736.