Begun in AD 1008, the materials took Burchard four years to compile. He wrote it while living in a small structure on top of a hill in the forest outside Worms, after his defeat of Duke Otto and while raising his adopted child. The collection, which he called the Collectarium Canonum or Decretum, became a primary source for canon law.
Along with numerous documents from a variety of sources, including the Old Testament and Saint Augustine of Hippo, Burchard included the Canon Episcopi in this collection, under the belief that it dated from an episcopal "Council of Anquira" in AD 314, but no other evidence of this council exists. Because of this inclusion, Burchard has been described as something of a rationalist. As the source of canon law, Burchard's Decretum was supplanted around 1150 by the Decretum Gratiani, a much larger collection that further attempted to reconcile contradictory elements of canon law.
Burchard spent the years 1023 to 1025 promulgating Leges et Statuta Familiae S. Petri Wormatiensis, a collection of religious laws he endorsed as just and hoped to have officially approbated.
"Action committed while intoxicated". A person who voluntarily and deliberately gets drunk or causes mental illness in order to commit a crime may under certain circumstances be held liable for that crime even though at the time he commits the prohibited conduct he may be blind-drunk and acting involuntarily.
"The law [is] harsh, but [it is] the law." It follows from the principle of the rule of law that even draconian laws must be followed and enforced; if one disagrees with the result, one must seek to change the law.
"Ignorance of the law is no excuse." Not knowing that one's actions are forbidden by the law is not a defense.
In claris non fit interpretatio
"In clear things no interpretation is made." When a rule is clearly intelligible, there is no need of proposing a (usually extensive) interpretation.
Inadimplenti non est adimplendum
"One has no need to respect his obligation if the counter-party has not respected his own." This is used in civil law to briefly indicate a principle (adopted in some systems) referred to as the synallagmatic contract.
"The judge does not calculate." A principle that calculation errors made by the court do not invalidate the judgement on a technicality. Also taken to mean that the judge does not tally up the arguments of both sides and decide in favor of the more numerous, but rather weighs all of the evidence without regard to the number of arguments made.
"No one gives what they do not have." The basic rule that a person who does not own property (e.g. a thief) cannot confer it on another except with the true owner's authority (i.e. as his agent). Exceptions to this rule include sales under statutory powers, and cases where the doctrine of estoppel prevents a legal owner from denying a seller's right to sell.
"Not to do evil that good may come." Performing some illegal action is not excused by the fact that a positive result came therefrom. Often used to argue that some forms of expression, such as graffiti or pornographic films, cannot be given the protection of law (e.g. copyright) as they are or may be considered illegal or morally reprehensible.
"No penalty without law" or "no crime, no punishment without a previous penal law". (1) One cannot be prosecuted for doing something that is not prohibited by law. (2) One cannot be prosecuted for doing something that was not prohibited by law at the time and place it was committed, notwithstanding laws made since that time. A form of prohibition on retroactive laws.
"As appears in the record". Used to cite something that has already been admitted into the record. It was frequently used in pleadings, generally abbreviated "prout &c.", to indicate that a fact was supported by documentary evidence. Failure to use this phrase correctly could be a fatal defect and so cause a case to fail.
"What is not in the register is not in the world." What is not reported in the (related, referring) registry, has no legal relevance. Used when a formal act (usually a recording or a transcription) is required in order to give consistence, content or efficacy to a right.
"The thing speaks for itself." Used in tort law when there is no proof of what caused the harm, but it is most likely only the thing that could have caused the harm.
Res inter alios acta vel iudicata, aliis nec nocet nec prodocet
What has been agreed/decided between people (a specific group) can neither benefit nor harm a third party (meaning: two or more people cannot agree amongst each other to establish an obligation for a third party who was not involved in the negotiation; furthermore, any benefit that may be established will have to be accepted by the third party before it can be implemented).
"The good of the people shall be the supreme law." Used variously as a motto, a reminder, or a notion of how the law and governments in general should be.
Sententia quae in rem iudicatam transit, pro veritate habetur
When a definitive sentence is declared, it is considered to be the truth. In the case of a sentence in rem iudicatam (that finally consents to consider a judgement completed), its content will then be the only legally relevant consideration of a fact.
"Use your property so as not to injure that of your neighbours." While an individual is entitled to the use and enjoyment of one's estate, the right is not without limits. Restrictions can give rise to tort actions including trespass, negligence, and nuisance.
Solve et repete
"Solve and resume." Respect your obligation first, then you can ask for reimbursement. Used in those situations in which one of the two (or more) parties needs to complete his obligation before being allowed to ask for the opposite obligation to be respected by his counter party. Usually this principle is used in fields and subjects in which a certain general steadiness or uniformity of the system has been considered a relevant value by the legislator. The case is typical of service contracts with repeated obligations (like with gas, water, electricity providers and similars), in which irregularities on one side cannot be balanced if not in a regular situation (i.e., of payments) on the other side. The customer, for example, might be asked to pay regularly the new bill, before contesting the previous one in which he found irregular calculations, and asking for a balancement with newer bills; he thus cannot by himself determine a discount in the next payment.
Ubi lex voluit, dixit; ubi noluit, tacuit
"When the law wills, it speaks; when it does not will, it is silent." When the law wants to regulate a matter in further detail, it does regulate the matter; when it does not want to regulate a matter in further detail, it remained silent (in the interpretation of a law, an excessively expansive interpretation might perhaps go beyond the intention of the legislator, thus we must adhere to what is in the text of the law and draw no material consequences from the law's silence).
"No one is obligated (to do) more than he can." Specifies that one should do what he can to support the community, but since everyone has different levels of ability, it cannot be expected that all will perform the same.
"Equity aids the vigilant, not the sleeping." Concept that if an opposing party unreasonably delays bringing an action, that it is no longer considered just to hear their claim, due to fundamental changes in circumstance brought on by their delay.
"Injury is not done to the willing." Notion that a person cannot bring a claim against another for injury, if said person willingly placed themselves in a situation where they knew injury could result.