The Ames Foundation
Legal History at Glasgow
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Volume 6 [2010]

Benignior interpretatio: Origin and Transformation of a
Rule of Construction in the Law of Succession

Martin Avenarius

This article discusses the origins and development of the benevolent interpretation of wills. Modern law tends to construe a will, as far as possible, in a way that gives effect to the testator's intention and consequently avoids intestacy. This principle derives from a historical development which traces back to a Roman concept of benignior interpretatio, established by Ulpius Marcellus in the second century AD in a case where the testator's intention was unclear and the results of possible interpretations were even contradictory. Marcellus suggested interpreting the testatorís behavior with regard to his intention, in so far as it can be ascertained, at least partially, as a hypothetical intention. On the basis of an evaluative judgment Marcellus found a solution which is, as far as possible, in the testatorís interest (benignior).

[Pp. 1–21

Review

Andrea Colorio

Die Rechtsetzung Mark Aurels zur Sklaverei [Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz: Abhandlungen der geistes- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse]. By Thomas Finkenauer. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2010. 108 pp. ISBN 978-3-515-09677-5 (paperback).

[Pp. 22–28








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