The making of contracts at Rome, during the early period, was always accompanied with many formalities. A sale could only be made in the presence of five Roman citizens as witnesses, the amount to be paid was weighed out by an official weigher, and the purchaser could then take possession. Similar formalities were observed in the creation of a loan, the borrower declaring himself to be indebted for the sum weighed out. An outgrowth of the same system was the marriage by coemptio, which first rendered legal marriage among plebeians possible.

The brief description of the Roman law given in the last few sections show the early legal conceptions of this people to have been very crude and little suited to serve as the foundation upon which to build a worldwide system of jurisprudence. As a matter of fact, this early system played little or no part in the after development of Roman law. During the latter period of the Republic a new system of jurisprudence gradually grew up in Rome, which was destined in time to supplant the older legal conceptions and to serve as the basis for that Roman law which has come down to modern times. It is necessary, therefore, to turn to the history of the origin and development of this second system of jurisprudence, known as the jus gentium.