Vanderbilt Law Review


Reginald Parker

First Page



The age-old rule of the common law that a citizen may not seek redress from the government for wrongs committed by the latter is often restated in the form of two maxims. One is that "the king can do no wrong." It refers to "wrongs" in the narrower sense of the word, meaning torts and related delicts. It has its counter part if not origin in the Roman-Byzantine holding, princeps legibus solutus est.' Many modern countries and some states have abrogated the rule. The other maxim, "the sovereign cannot be sued without his consent," precludes any law suit, not merely in tort, against the government unless it "consents." This latter rule has no counterpart in the civil law, which has not objected to contractual suits against the "fisc" since time immemorial. As a matter of fact, the fisc of the civil law countries is usually conceived as a juristic person existing for the very purpose of enabling the state to be a plaintiff or defendant in a civil litigation.