Published online by Cambridge University Press: 30 September 2019
‘In law context is everything.’ So said Lord Steyn in the case of R (Daly) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department.1 In doing so, he was perhaps making a statement of the blindingly obvious, but that does not undermine either the veracity or the broad pertinence of the observation. Indeed, it is an insight onto which the comparative lawyer in particular, and perhaps the comparative constitutional lawyer even more especially, must fasten. One of the great virtues of comparative study is its capacity to illuminate one’s comprehension of a given legal phenomenon or system through an appreciation of how and why things are done differently elsewhere. Understanding why such differences arise can illuminate one’s ‘home’ jurisdiction in fresh ways, subtly, or even radically, changing one’s perspective, and opening up new avenues of inquiry. This can be particularly instructive when the jurisdictions under consideration are, in general, relatively similar – for in such circumstances, individual points of contrast are not readily dismissible as functions of macro-divergence. It is for this reason that comparative scholarship that examines different members of a jurisdictional family, such as the common law systems that form the focus of this book, can be so fruitful.