Jonathan Ainslie

Thesis title: Economic Fragmentation in the Legal Sources of the Roman Empire, 165 to 312 CE.


Jonathan has been a PhD candidate in the Centre for Legal History at the Edinburgh Law School since September 2017. He was a recipient of the Modern Law Review scholarship from 2018 to 2020.

Jonathan graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an LL.B. (Hons, First Class) in Law and Politics in 2016. He completed an LL.M. (Merit) at Edinburgh in Comparative and European Private Law in 2017. His LL.M. dissertation compared the protection of dignitary interests in England, Scotland and South Africa. This followed an ERASMUS course in European Legal Systems at the University of Salzburg in 2015. 

Jonathan grew up in Bridge of Earn, Perthshire.

Responsibilities & affiliations

Jonathan has sat on the Senatus Academicus since September 2019 as representative for tutors and demonstrators.  He was previously a student member of the Student Discipline Committee from 2015 to 2017 and served as Convenor for the Law School at the Edinburgh University Students' Association from 2014 to 2015. 

Jonathan has served as Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Edinburgh Student Law Review for two years. 

Jonathan is the Convenor of the Henry Goudy Seminar. Formerly known as the Roman Law Club, the Seminar was founded by Prof Peter Birks in the 1980s as "an informal activity of the Edinburgh Roman Law Group with the particular aim of encouraging students whose interest in law or the ancient world attracts them to the study of Roman law". 

Jonathan created and now convenes the Edinburgh-Cambridge Roman Law Moot alongside Dr Benjamin Spagnolo. 

Jonathan works for the University of Edinburgh as the Warden for the following undergraduate halls of residence: Robertson's Close, Nicolson/South College Street, Blackfriars Street, College Wynd and Kincaid's Court. 

Undergraduate teaching

Jonathan is active in undergraduate teaching. He created the Reasoning Using Civilian Authority (RUCA) (LAWS10213) course in August 2019 and updates it annually. Jonathan currently delivers most of the seminars for the RUCA course. Jonathan has also served as one of the course tutors for Civil Law (Ordinary) (LAWS08104) for three years. 

Research summary

Jonathan's main research interests are Roman law, Scottish legal history, and Scots and comparative private law. 

Current research interests

Jonathan's PhD thesis analyses the institutions of remissio mercedis and laesio enormis in Roman law by putting their development in the context of economic and social change during the Crisis of the Third Century. Jonathan's other current research focuses on the interface between legal history and modern practice, most recently with respect to good faith and relationality in contract.

Affiliated research centres

Papers delivered

Jonathan has delivered the following conference papers:

"Commutative Justice Under the Tetrarchy: An Analysis of Laesio Enormis and Rent Remission" -  LXXIIIth Session de la Societé Internationale Fernand de Visscher pour l’Histoire des Droits de l’Antiquité, Edinburgh (UK), 3rd-7th September 2019.

"A Tale of Three Cities? Comparing the Legal Treatment of Foreigners in Ancient Rome and Early Modern Low Countries" - XIIth Celtic Conference in Classics, Coimbra (Portugal), 26-29th June 2019. 

"Roman Citizenship and the Ius civile: the Constitutio Antoniniana in Legal, Political and Economic Context" - XXVth Annual Young Legal Historians' Forum, Brussels (Belgium), 5-7th June 2019. 


Jonathan is due to deliver the following conference paper:

"Good Faith and Relationality in Contract: A Scots-Roman Perspective" - Legal History in Modern Practice, Aberdeen (UK), May 2021.