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3 - Historical-Jurisprudential Methods

from Part I - Methods of Comparative Law

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 January 2024

Mathias Siems
Affiliation:
European University Institute, Florence
Po Jen Yap
Affiliation:
The University of Hong Kong
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Summary

The relationship between comparative law and legal history has been a topic of interest for a long time. But reflections on how methods could combine the historical approaches of legal systems around the world with theoretical or jurisprudential points of view really began with Edouard Lambert’s 1903 book La fonction du droit civil comparé. Using the two meanings of ‘jurisprudence’ (as case law in French language and as legal theory in English), Lambert proposed comparing positive rules while bearing in mind the weight of history and its limits. Following this path, this chapter explores critical and constructive approaches to comparative law through legal history. In the first part of this chapter, history is used to criticise simplistic conceptions of comparative law like ‘legal families’ and ‘national spirit’. In the second part, historical-jurisprudential approaches are defended as a means of more clearly delimiting legal phenomena and facilitating a deeper analysis of the dynamics of law. In conclusion, scholars are and should remain open to developing a diversity of historical-jurisprudential approaches.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

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