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Education CV


- PhD Candidate in Law, University of Cambridge (2014-2017)

- MA, Ancient History, King's College London (2011-13)

- BVC, Inns of Court School of Law (2001-4)

- CPE, London Guildhall University (1997-9)

- BA, Modern languages: Spanish and Italian, University of Exeter (1992-6)

Scholarships and awards 

- Benefactor's Scholarship, St John's College Cambridge (2014-7)

- Harmsworth Scholarship and Blackstone Entrance Exhibition, Honourable Society of the Middle Temple (2002)

Professional Experience

- Freelance consultant, working primarily for Birnberg Peirce & Partners Solicitors and Lawrence Lupin Solicitors (2010-11)

- Legal Officer, Refugee Legal Centre (2004-2010)


- Caseworker, Wilsons Solicitors (2001-4)


- Admitted to Middle Temple, 2001  (also Called to the Bar at Middle Temple)

Fields of research

Legal History of Late Antiquity


Justinian's 'decisiones' in the context of his codification


My research focuses on the legislation of the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian (C6 AD), in particular those laws which sought to resolve the controversies which had arisen amongst the classical-era jurists.  I will be seeking to ascertain what prompted these constitutions, how their role was perceived and indeed whether this perception changed over the course of Justinian’s codification project.  The link between the ‘decisiones’ / ‘alias constitutiones’ and Justinian’s Digest, Code (both editions) and Institutes will be central. 

I am particularly interested in the extent to which the Digest absorbed the laws in question, or was originally intended to do so, the current consensus being in the affirmative.  However, this conclusion is not based on a comparison between the actual content of the laws in question and the individual fragments contained in the Digest.  My studies will be directed at these substantive provisions, and from the research carried out to date, rather than replicating the provisions there is considerably more emphasis on ensuring that the Digest is not inconsistent with them, and did not repeat them.  These findings already place in doubt the widely-held view that the Digest was intended to contain a comprehensive statement of the law as then in force.

I will also be looking at the wider evidence regarding whether the laws being examined were connected to the needs of practitioners and their clients, or whether they were merely the result of intellectual musings of an elite in Constantinople, or were aimed at promoting Justinian’s image as a just law-giver.   The evidence considered thus far points to real cases being the spur to the laws, but there are also counter-indications and the evidence needs a much more thorough examination.  

Because many modern-day legal systems were profoundly influenced by Justinianic law, my research is of fundamental importance to legal history generally.



Professor David Ibbetson

Representative Publications

A hypothesis regarding Justinian's decisiones and the Digest,

Start Date

Oct 2014

End date

Sep 2017