Charles Donahue, Jr., The Emergence of the Crime-Tort Distinction in England, in Conflict in Medieval Europe: Changing Perspectives on Society and Culture 219 (Warren C. Brown & Piotr Górecki eds., 2003).
Abstract: This chapter discusses the crime–tort distinction and its supposed derivation from Roman law. In Anglo-American law the distinctions between crime and tort, and between criminal and civil procedure, are subdivisions of a wider distinction between public law and private law. The emergence of the justices of the peace in the fourteenth century, justices who had jurisdiction over lesser crimes but did not have jurisdiction over civil actions of trespass, was probably quite important in developing the crime–tort distinction in English law. There were people in Henry II's England who knew much more Roman law. The Roman distinctions between crime and delict, criminal and civil, proved useful to describe what had happened, and served to confirm its naturalness and inevitability. The Roman legal terms that correspond to the modern Anglo-American 'crime' and 'tort', and even more to the modern Continental crime and delict, are crimen and delictum.