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COMPARATIVE LAW Slideshow #2 – Classifying the law, legal families LLM KiLAW Spring 2013 Dr Myra Williamson.

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Presentation on theme: "COMPARATIVE LAW Slideshow #2 – Classifying the law, legal families LLM KiLAW Spring 2013 Dr Myra Williamson."— Presentation transcript:

1 COMPARATIVE LAW Slideshow #2 – Classifying the law, legal families LLM KiLAW Spring 2013 Dr Myra Williamson

2 Essential questions Keep these questions in the back of your mind during the next couple of classes: What are ‘legal families’? What criteria are used to sort legal systems into legal families? What’s the history behind them? Why do scholars seem interested in them? Which classification is ‘best’? Are classifications still useful these days? Are they different these days? Will they change in the future?

3 Readings See the readings in your CM at 116 (extract from the book by Zweigert and Kotz) and 122 (article by Mariana Pargendler) Later, see the CIA World Factbook starting at CM 155 – it has some definitions and then lists all states according to how it thinks they should be classified Other classifications are available on the internet

4 Some classifications of the world’s legal systems available online Wikipedia l_systems l_systems JuriGlobe – World Legal Systems Research Project at the University of Ottawa Legal Information Institute at the University of Cornell

5 Classifying the law One of the key area of discussion in the discipline of Comparative Law is the classification of the world’s legal systems Some scholars group legal systems into groups with similar characteristics and refer to them as “legal families” “The theory of ‘legal families’ seeks to provide the answer to several distinct questions in comparative law. Can we divide the vast number of legal systems into just a few large groups (legal families)? How do we decide what these groups should be? And, supposing we know what the groups should be, how do we decide whether a particular legal system belongs to one group or another?” - Zweigert and Kotz, p 63, in CM 116-117

6 Zweigert and Kotz We should look at ‘important’ or ‘essential’ differentiating qualities: 1.Historical Background and development 2.Predominant and characteristic mode of thought in legal matters 3.Especially distinctive institutions 4.The kind of legal sources it acknowledges and the way it handles them 5.Its ideology See CM 68 ff.

7 Why classify? “…so as to arrange the mass of legal systems into a comprehensive order…If one or two legal systems prove representative of each of these large groups, then the comparatist can…concentrate on those systems…” Zweigert and Kotz, CM 117 “The practice has been to study legal systems that best represent large groups and then make generalisations based on concepts such as originality, derivation and common elements…” Esin Orucu in Comparative Law – A Handbook at 169

8 Taxonomy? Since the beginning of comparative law (sometimes taken as 1900 when the Paris Congress was held) different scholars have come up with different ways of classifying the law - or different taxonomies “Taxonomy” means grouping of organisms or the study of classification Scholars often discuss the different ways of classifying legal systems – who’s system is best/most accurate/new ways of classifying Let’s look at some of the main ones…

9 Early attempts Glasson (1880): only classified legal systems of Europe and Russia (ignored the rest of the world) Bevilaqau (1893): similar to Glasson but again heavily influenced by Europe, Russia and Americas For a list of classifications see Pargendler at CM 136-140

10 Adhemar Esmein (1905) Law Professor at the University of Paris “ Sensible classifications were essential for advancing sensible comparisons” Pargendler at CM 130 “…we must classify the laws of different countries, enacted or customary, by dividing them into a small number of families or groups, each of which constitutes and original system of law…” Look at the historical formation, general structure, distinctive traits

11 Esmein’s classifications 1. Latin Group (France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Romania and the Latin American countries) 2.Germanic Group (Germany, Scandinavian countries, Austria, Hungary) 3.Anglo-Saxon Group (UK, US, British colonies and dominions) 4.Slavic group 5.Muslim law His approach “was soon criticized and rapidly forgotten” even though if you change “Slavic” to “Socialist” and you combine the Latin and Germanic groups, it looks like the classifications that would become popular in the 20 th century He didn’t point out that the Latin and Germanic were both from the “civil law” tradition He didn’t make the (now) common distinction between the common law and the civil law

12 Georges Sauser-Hall - 1913 New approach – based on race! 1.Hindu 2.Celtic 3.Anglo-Saxon 4.Hebraic 5.Egyptian 6.Germanic 7.Graeco-Latin

13 Henry Levy-Ullmann - 1923 Three great systems based on sources of law: 1.Legal systems of continental countries which are based on written sources of law 2.Legal systems of English-language countries which follow the common law 3.Legal systems of Islamic countries This was the first time that the common law/civil law distinction was made by a legal comparativist

14 Arminjon/Nolde/Wolff - 1950 Trio of Egyptian, Russian and German scholars published an important comparative law treatise in 1950 We should group according to the substance and without any reference to geography or race Seven different legal families: 1.French 2.German 3.Scandinavian 4.English 5.Russian 6.Islamic 7.Hindu See CM 117 and 134 NOTE: just like David’s classification that also came out in 1950 (see next slide) they did not make a common law/civil law distinction

15 Rene David - 1962 David: we should use ideology and legal technique to classify Three large families: 1.Romano-Germanic laws 2.Common Law 3.Socialist Law 4.Others (incl Jewish law, law of the Far East, African) See CM 117 and in Pargendler’s article at CM 133 (Compare with his earlier work – in 1950 he published a different classification with 5 families, namely, 1) Western Law 2) Socialist Law 3) Islamic law 4) Hindu Law 5) Chinese Law. As you can see, in 1950 he did not think there was a need to divide them along common law/civil law lines)

16 Zweigert and Kotz – 1969 1.1. Romanistic Legal Family 2.Germanic Legal Family 3.Anglo-American Legal Family 4.Nordic (ie. Scandinavian Legal Family) 5.Far-Eastern Legal Family 6.Islamic law 7.Hindu Law Basis for classification: ‘styles’ – using history, mode of thought, distinctive institutions, legal sources and ideology

17 Some comments Bias: The European scholars seemed to have some bias in favour of their own systems, giving status to their own country as having unique characteristics (see CM 135) Temporary: Both David and Zweigert and Kotz admitted that their classifications were somewhat arbitrary and only good for the time they were written – legislation and other events could easily change them Continuing: new classifications continue to be offered – this field is still developing, new ideas and new classifications are being argued for (for some, see CM Obsolete: some say that the whole idea is obsolete (see CM 124 and fn 7): the argument is that with the rise of the European Union and the pressure for legal convergence, legal family distinctions are “increasingly outmoded” Civil law/common law: this distinction is relatively recent – it did not exist in the early classifications Some argue that all systems are mixed (see Esin Orucu below)

18 Legal systems of the world Civil Law Common Law Religious Law (Islamic, Hindu, Jewish etc) Customary Law Mixed Law There are several websites where you can see a list of the world’s legal systems with classifications: CIA World FactBook here factbook/fields/2100.html CIA states that there are 5: 1)Civil 2) Common 3) Customary 4) Mixed/pluralistic 5) Religious 2)Plus international Wikipedia’s List of National Legal Systems here: factbook/fields/2100.html


20 Civil Law The most widespread type of legal system in the world Applied in various forms in approximately 150 countries. Also referred to as European continental law Derived mainly from the Roman Corpus Juris Civilus, (Body of Civil Law), a collection of laws and legal interpretations compiled under the East Roman (Byzantine) Emperor Justinian I A.D. 528 and 565. The major feature of civil law systems is that the laws are organized into systematic written codes. In civil law the sources recognized as authoritative are principally legislation - especially codifications in constitutions or statutes enacted by governments - and secondarily, custom. The civil law systems in some countries are based on more than one code.

21 Civil Law - II Civil law jurisdictions date back thousands of years For example, the Code of Hammurabi - 1760 B.C. 282 Articles mmurabi.html mmurabi.html In modern times, the Napoleonic Code (1804) has been a major source of many civil legal systems The Napoleonic Code wasn’t the first code in Europe but it was the first modern pan-European code that has affected a large part of the world Civil law originated in Europe (the Napoleonic Code was based on Justinian’s 6 th century codification of Roman law) but it spread throughout Asia, Latin America and Africa via colonial expansion Although there are major differences between them, there are some similarities across most civil legal systems: Case law is secondary in importance to statutory law Precedent is not as important as in common law systems The court process is inquisitorial (rather than adversarial) Judge are specially-trained; their role is more limited to applying the law rather than creating law Juries are not usually used

22 Civil law - images Code of Hammurabi – 282 laws (c.1750 BC) The Napoleonic Code – French Civil Code (1804)

23 Common law Common law is also called ‘case law’ because it is based on the decisions (cases) of the courts A ‘common law legal system’ is a legal system that gives great weight to judicial decisions It DOES NOT mean that there is no law made by the legislature – that also occurs Synonymous with "English common law," which is the system of England and Wales in the UK, and is also in force in approximately 80 countries that were formerly part of or influenced by the former British Empire. English common law reflects Biblical influences as well as remnants of law systems imposed by early conquerors including the Romans, Anglo- Saxons, and Normans. Some legal scholars attribute the formation of the English common law system to King Henry II (r.1154-1189). Until the time of his reign, laws customary among England's various manorial and ecclesiastical (church) jurisdictions were administered locally. Henry II established the king's court and designated that laws were "common" to the entire English realm.

24 Common law - II About one third of the world’s population lives in common law legal jurisdictions – about 80 countries The foundation of English common law is "legal precedent" - referred to as stare decisis, meaning "to stand by things decided.” In the English common law system, court judges are bound in their decisions in large part by the rules and other doctrines developed - and supplemented over time - by the judges of earlier English courts. See graphic “Common law legal systems in the world today: n_law_systems n_law_systems

25 Customary law A type of legal system that serves as the basis of, or has influenced, the present-day laws in approximately 40 countries - mostly in Africa, but some in the Pacific islands, Europe, and the Near East. Customary law is also referred to as "primitive law," "unwritten law," "indigenous law,” “chthonic law” and "folk law" Note: “customary law” is different from “customary international law” There is no single history of customary law such as that found in Roman civil law, English common law, Islamic law, or the Napoleonic Civil Code. The earliest systems of law in human society were customary, and usually developed in small agrarian and hunter-gatherer communities, based upon the customs of a community.

26 Customary law continued… Common attributes of customary legal systems are that they are seldom written down, they embody an organized set of rules regulating social relations, and they are agreed upon by members of the community Although such law systems include sanctions for law infractions, resolution tends to be reconciliatory rather than punitive. A number of African states practiced customary law many centuries prior to colonial influences. Following colonization, such laws were written down and incorporated to varying extents into the legal systems imposed by their colonial powers.

27 Customary law - II Examples of customary law: 1.Canada – aboriginal law is now recognized in the Canadian constitution 1.New Zealand – customary title to the seabed and foreshore; the indigenous Maori people often claim customary fishing rights 1.Kazakhstan – the ‘aqsaqal’ courts have been revitalized; village courts that deal with family, torts and property law matters; village elders involved act as judges or advisors; old system, based on tribal practices

28 Mixed legal systems There a number of legal systems in the world which have elements of more than one type - they are not purely “common law” or purely “civil law” systems These are sometimes called “mixed” or “hybrid” legal systems For example, some legal systems are a mixture of civil and common law – this is the ‘classic’ mixed legal system This is a relatively ‘new’ area - 50 years ago, these mixed systems were virtually ignored These days, this is an area that is attracting more scholarly attention (see for example chapter 17 in Bussani and Mattei) It is possible to argue that all or most legal systems are a mixture to some degree

29 Mixed systems - II How should we define a ‘mixed system’? Is is “common law/civil law”? This is the classic meaning of a mixed system. There are about 20 such legal systems in the world including: Botswana Cyprus Louisiana (the state in the US) Malta Quebec (in Canada) Scotland (in the UK) South Africa Thailand Or does it mean “common law/customary law” or “common law/Islamic law” or any other combination or 2 or more legal systems?

30 Mixed systems - III Today, mixed jurisdiction studies are flourishing V V Palmer is writing a lot in this area – he argues that ‘mixed systems’ are a “third legal family” VV Palmer: 1.Civil law 2.Common law 3.Mixed Sometimes called “mixed” other times “hybrid” What do you think about this new classification?

31 Criticism of ‘mixed systems’ as a third legal family Esin Orucu at p171: “…not all ‘mixes’ can be pooled together and not all the existing members of such a family would have the same or similar ingredients. It would be extremely difficult to place, for example, Quebec and Algeria – both mixed systems – into one family.” Orucu also says that ALL SYSTEMS ARE MIXED SYSTEMS: “The conclusion, then, is that all legal systems are mixed. There are no exceptions. Only the ways of mixing and the character of the ensuing mixtures are different” - Esin Orucu in Comparative Law – a Handbook at 177

32 Some questions to ponder… What do you know about ‘legal families’ that you didn’t know at the beginning of this week? What is the purpose of ‘legal families’? Are they still useful or is this out of date and obsolete? Which classification do you find most accurate and why? Do you agree with Esin Orucu that all systems are mixed systems? How would you classify Kuwait: what type of legal system is it? How do you account for different classifications? What’s your view on the whole topic?

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