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This subject will link different traditions, genres, and methods of comparative legal studies to a critical analysis of the ethical and political implications of comparative legal projects. Students will explore canonical texts representing the main academic traditions of comparative legal studies, key features of laws from different countries/legal cultures (in particular constitutions), and accounts of the practical application of the comparative method within and without the law school (such as legal consulting, legal reform, and harmonisation of legal regimes). The subject will examine the transnational and transcultural development of legal regimes and constitutional orders, and consider how the transfer of laws is facilitated by or resists globalisation. The goal is to overcome the marginalisation of comparative law in the legal curriculum and develop a conceptual framework for designing and interpreting the phases, outcomes and risks of legal transfer.
Principal topics include:
- An overview of the history and main academic traditions in comparative law (such as functionalism, structuralism, taxonomy, factualism).
- An analysis of the different argumentative and methodological ‘tracks’ of comparative law and their internal connections with ethical agendas and political projects
- A conceptual framework for designing and interpreting the phases, outcomes and risks of legal (constitutional) transfer
- A critical evaluation of concepts like legal ‘tradition’, ‘system’, ‘family’, ‘culture’, ‘transplant’ used in the comparative legal literature
- The key features of laws of different countries/legal cultures, in particular constitutions
- Accounts of the practical application of the comparative method within and without the law school (legal consulting, legal reform, harmonisation of legal regimes)
- Texts illustrating critical approaches to conventional legal comparison.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced understanding of the traditions and paradigms of comparative law and the crucial importance of method for the self-perception of comparatists and the identity of the discipline
- Be able to differentiate and critically analyse the dominant methodological approaches, in particular formalist taxonomies, structuralism, functionalism and factualism
- Have the cognitive information and skills to analyse and critique the internal relationship between the different methods, ethics and politics of comparative law
- Be able to recognize, evaluate and convey the conceptual and ideological implications of and differences between legal systems, legal cultures and legal traditions
- Have a deepened understanding of the crucial role comparative law plays in projects of legal consulting and engineering and a globalized economy
- Have a sophisticated understanding of how the transfer of law can be conceptualized and theoretically reconstructed
- Have the cognitive and analytical skills to explore and articulate how processes of globalisation affect legal (constitutional) transfer and identify and interpret legal items which resist globalization in their political-cultural context
- Be an engaged participant in debate regarding the problems and pitfalls as well as the value of comparative legal studies.
Last updated: 10 November 2023