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COMMISSUM One sense of this word is that of “forfeited,” which is derived from the sense of the verb committere, “to attach legal effect to,” “to make operative.” So committere edictum is to occasion an edict to come into force (Dig. 37, 4, 8.11; 14, 10.5, 11 pr.); committere poenam or mulctam is to make oneself liable to a penalty (Cic. Clu. 37.103); stipulatio committitur means that a stipulation is become operative by the occurrence of a condition precedent or otherwise. Hence property forfeited by the coming into effect of a condition was said to be commissum, as when a lex commissoria was attached to a mortgage (pignus). Thus Cicero (Cic. Fam. 13.56) speaks of a hypothecated thing becoming commissa; that is, becoming the absolute property of the creditor for default of payment. Commissa hereditas is an inheritance forfeited as a penalty (Cic. Ver. 1.10, § 27).

Commissum is specially applied to anything [p. 1.513]such as merchandise confiscated because revenue duty had not been paid on it, or a proper return of it made to the publicani. A thing thus forfeited (vectigalium nomine) ceased to be the property of the owner and belonged to the fiscus. Things, the exportation of which was prohibited, such as arms and ships, might likewise be subject to forfeiture (in causam commissi cadere). In early times the publicani had the remedy of distraint on account of unpaid taxes (Gaius, 4.28). The principle of forfeiture may have been made applicable to such cases by a lex censoria.

Commissum is used by mediaeval writers to signify property forfeited, as e. g. to the lord of whom a fief was held, and commissio is found in a corresponding sense. (Dig. 39, 4; Paul. Sent. Recept. 5.1; Fragm. de jure fisci.


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