Does Cicero's Decision Stand the Test of Time? Famine at Rhodes and Comparative Law and Economics Approach

Mitja Kovac (University of Ljubljana School of Economics and Business)
Margot Callewaert (KU Leuven)


The question of the circumstances under which an individual has a duty to disclose valuable information unknown to the person with whom she bargains represents one of the most puzzling and extensively debated legal issues. Does the party have the right to remain silent and profit from her secret knowledge? These questions have fascinated scholars in philosophy, law and history from ancient times and have produced an impressive amount of literature, decisions and comments. Most recently, it has also gained extensive attention in many prominent laws and among economics scholars. In addition, the pre-contractual duty to disclose information is, among many comparative legal scholars, widely used as an illustration of the current deep, sharp common/civil law division. This paper overcomes an old legal and moral crux and critically examines the disclosure duties of ancient Roman law and in particularly the famous Cicero decision on the famine at Rhodes.

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