A roadmap from 2050 BCE to Legislate.
- Code of Ur-Nammu (c. 2050 BCE)
The world’s oldest surviving legal code originates from Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq including parts of Kuwait, Syria, and Turkey). A legal code is a written statement of laws which purports to comprehensively cover all laws in a legal system as they existed at the time of writing. The Code of Ur-Nammu codified the laws of the land in the following pattern: if X (the crime), then Y (the punishment). This pattern has been the basis for almost all succeeding legal codes.
- Institutes of Justinian (533 AD)
The Institutes of Justinian were the codification of Roman law ordered by Byzantine emperor Justinian I. Largely based on earlier texts such as the Institutes of Gaius (a Roman jurist from 300 years prior), Justinian’s Institutes were originally meant to be a simple textbook for law students. However, its legacy lives on as the law contained in it, most notably the private law field of obligations, became the foundation for most legal codes in Europe. A lot of the concepts and principles found in the Institutes continue to exist in the civil law tradition, which due to colonisation, now accounts for about 60% of the world’s legal systems.
- Invention of fingerprinting (c. 650 AD)
While fingerprints had been used by Chinese officials to seal documents as long as 3000 years ago, it was not until the advent of silk and paper that fingerprinting really took off in China as a way for parties to authenticate legally binding contracts. The parties would impress their handprints on the documents, thus verifying their identity and authenticating the transaction. The invention of fingerprinting gave parties increased confidence in the agreements they were entering into, and this quickly spread to other countries.
- Magna Carta (1215 AD)
The Magna Carta is a charter that protected the rights and property of the English elite classes from King John I, a ruler they found to be tyrannical. A charter is a legal document issued by a monarch guaranteeing certain rights to certain people. Known as the first general statement of rights, the Magna Carta provided the foundation for the individual rights of “free men”. It has been called the "blueprint of English common law" because its principles, most notably on the rule of law and civil liberties, were the foundation of the legal system which, following colonisation, is practised today across the commonwealth.
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- Formation of the UN (1945)
The United Nations was formed after the end of WWII with the aim of fostering international peace and preventing future wars. The UN planned to do this through the development of international law i.e. the law which governs the relationship between countries. The UN Charter codified the major principles of international relations, and made other influential moves such as establishing the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which has jurisdiction over all member states. Through its treaties, the UN has harmonised the conventions and standards of international cooperation in several areas.
- Ethereum (2015)
Ethereum is a popular blockchain which introduced smart contracts to the wider crypto community. Counting up to 1.5 million total deployed contracts towards the end of 2020, Ethereum remains the most advanced platform to process smart contracts. A smart contract is an agreement between parties in the form of computer code, which is stored and processed on a secure decentralised network such as blockchain where it cannot be altered, lost, or deleted. The terms of a smart contract are directly written into lines of code, and when the conditions are met, the contract is automatically executed. Unlike ordinary contracts which can be amended, smart contracts cannot be modified at all, rendering their terms irreversible.
- Legislate Technologies (2020)
Legislate is a contracting platform that was launched as a way for landlords and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) to negotiate and create contracts on their own terms. By creating valid contracts, individuals voluntarily accept to be bound by certain rights and duties; they will have to uphold these, or risk being held liable for breach of contract by a court. Contracting is an example of how private law enables people to choose some rules which will govern themselves, in the form of terms in a contract i.e. person or business can legislate over themselves by entering into legally binding contracts through a platform such as Legislate.
Why don’t you find out for yourself?
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The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.