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Culpa

Any wrongful act or omission, whether due to intent or not. Taken generally, it includes what the Romans term dolus malus, but properly the latter is distinguished from culpa when this term is used accurately; dolus malus being an intentional and deliberate violation, whether by act or omission, of another's rights, and culpa an unintentional violation, consisting apparently always in the omission or neglect of some legal duty. It is true that damnum under the Lex Aquilia is often the consequence of some act; but the act usually derives its culpable character rather from the omission of some duty than from the positive act which is done; the latter, in itself, does not entail legal liability, but because it is done wilfully, heedlessly, or rashly. See Hasse, Die “Culpa” des römischen Rechts (1838); and Mommsen, in his Obligationenrecht, iii. pp. 345 foll.

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