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p835 Operis Novi Nuntiatio

Article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on p835 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

O′PERIS NOVI NUNTIA′TIO was a summary remedy provided by the Edict against a person who was making an Opus Novum. An Opus Novum consisted in either adding something in the way of building (aedificando) or taking away something so as to alter the appearance of a thing (facies operis). The object of the nuntiatio was either the maintenance of a right (jus), or to prevent damage (damnum), or to protect the public interest (publicum jus). The owner of the property which was threatened with damage by the Opus Novum, or he who had an easement (servitus) in such property, had the Jus nuntiandi (Dig.43 25). Nuntiatio consisted in protesting against and forbidding the progress of the Opus Novum, on the spot where the work was proceeding and in the presence of the owner or of some person who was there present on his account. The Nuntiatio did not require any application to or interference on the part of the Praetor. It was a rule of law that the Nuntiatio must take place before the work was completed: after it was completed, the Operis Novi Nuntiatio had no effect, and redress could only be obtained by the Interdict Quod vi aut clam.

If the Opus Novum consisted in building on the complainant's ground, or inserting or causing any thing to project into his premises, it was better to apply at once to the praetor, or to prevent it per manum, that is, as it is explained "jactu lapilli," which was a symbol of the use of force for self-protection.

The Edict declared that after a nuntiatio nothing should be done, until the Nuntiatio was declared illegal (nuntiatio missa or remissa fiat) or a security (satisdatio de opere restituendo) was given. If the person to whom the notice was given persevered, even if he had a right to do what he was doing; yet as he was acting against the praetor's edict, he might be compelled to undo what he had done. By the Nuntiatio, the parties were brought within the jurisdiction of the praetor. In cases where there was danger from the interruption of the work, or the person who was making the Opus Novum denied the right of the nuntians, he was allowed to go on upon giving a cautio or security for demolition or restoration, in case the law was against him. When the cautio was given or the nuntians waived it, the party was intitled to an interdictum prohibitorium for his protection in prosecuting the work.

The effect of the nuntiatio ceased, when the cautio was given; when the nuntians died; when he alienated the property in respect of which he claimed the Jus nuntiandi; or when the praetor permitted the work to go on (operis novi nuntiationem . . . remiserit, Lex Gall. Cis. x; Dig. 39 tit. 1 s22, ante remissam nuntiationem; Dig. 39 tit. 1; Mackeldey, Lehrbuch, &c., 12th ed. § 237, &c.).


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