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Comparative Law, Legal Transplants and Legal Change

  • George Mousourakis
Chapter

Abstract

Systems of law are concerned with relations between agents (human, legal, unincorporated and otherwise) at a variety of levels. At an international level, public international law governs relations between sovereign states and sets the limits for the exercise of state power in the light of generally recognized norms. At an international or transnational level also operate human rights law, international criminal law, refugee law, international environmental law, transnational arbitration and other systems. Functioning at a territorial state level are the legal systems of nation-states and sub-national (e.g. the legal systems of the individual states within federal states) or sub-state jurisdictions (e.g. the bye-laws of counties or municipalities and the laws of ethnic communities within states which enjoy a degree of autonomy). It is important to note that very few legal orders or systems of rules are complete, self-contained or impervious. Co-existing legal orders interact in complex ways: they may compete or conflict; sustain or reinforce each other; and often they influence each other through interaction, imposition, imitation and transplantation. Nowadays, national legal systems have become interconnected through the operation of international and transnational regimes in a variety of ways. They are subject to, and modified by, international conventions and treaties, trade regulations and various inter-state agreements. Some countries harmonize their laws, coordinate their fiscal policies, and agree to recognize each other’s judgments or cooperate in antitrust enforcement. The changes in the legal universe that have been taking place in the last few decades have increased the potential value of different kinds of comparative law information and thereby urged new objectives for the comparative law community. The comparative method, which was in the past applied in the traditional framework of domestic law, is now being adapted to the new needs created by the ongoing globalization process, becoming broader and more comprehensive with respect to both its scope and goals. Associated with this development is the growing interest in the issue of transferability or transplantability of legal norms and institutions across different systems, especially in so far as current legal integration and harmonization processes require reasonably transferable models. Following a discussion of factors accounting for the divergence and convergence of legal systems, this chapter critically examines the issue of transferability of laws with special attention being paid to the theory of legal transplants propounded by Professor Alan Watson, one of the most influential contemporary comparatists and legal historians.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Mousourakis
    • 1
  1. 1.International RelationsRitsumeikan UniversityKyotoJapan

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