Validity and Equality in Early Irish Contract Law: <i>Dliged</i> and <i>Cert</i> in the light of <i>Cóic Conara Fugill</i>


  • Jaqueline Bemmer Jesus College, University of Oxford


Ireland, law, contract, equality, surety


The purpose of this article is to analyse the unique procedural division between dliged (entitlement) and cert (justice) in the Cóic Conara Fugill (The Five Paths to Judgement), by means of comparing its evidence with other Irish legal sources relevant to contract law, such as Berrad Airechta (The Shearing of the Court) and Di Astud Chor (On the Securing of Contracts). Cóic Conara Fugill is the only tract which delineates specific paths to judgement in court and distinguishes between dliged, envisaged as an action taken to challenge the validity of a contract and cert as a plea directed to adjust inequities within a valid contract. This division finds further reflection in the differing guarantees demanded for each plea, the classical, contractual naidm-surety for dliged but, on the contrary, a smachtgille (one-seventh pledge) for cert. This classification is striking because it is not found in any other legal source and stands in marked contrast to provisions in Berrad Airechta and Di Astud Chor which appear  to treat the issue of commercial activities as having but one underlying judicial concern, the overall regulation of contractual agreements. A closer examination of Cóic Conara Fugill will contribute to the understanding of the nature of contractual obligations in early Ireland and will certainly provide us with intriguing questions for further investigation.