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Mainstreaming Foreign Law in the Asian Law School Curriculum

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 July 2019

Maartje DE VISSER
Affiliation:
Singapore Management University, Singaporemdevisser@smu.edu.sg
Andrew HARDING
Affiliation:
National University of Singapore, Singaporelawajh@nus.edu.sg
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Abstract

Exposure to foreign law is immensely valuable as it expands students’ argumentative and analytical terrain. More pragmatically, there has been a discernable shift towards rule-of-law thinking in furthering regional integration and a flurry of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) involving Asian countries. Law schools ought to capitalize on this reality. The preferred educational strategy to adopt, we argue, entails systematically integrating foreign law across the traditional components that make up undergraduate curricula. Asian law schools should simultaneously offer general comparative courses that train students in comparative methodology and theory, enabling them to become discerning consumers of and sensible contributors to comparative research, including in the context of domestic law reform. In advocating such mainstreaming of foreign law, we further suggest a broad understanding of this notion as encompassing all rules that do not have their origins in the municipal legal order, including those produced by regional organizations like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Unlike Europe's law schools, which have been laggards in adapting law school curricula to changes in their wider regional environment, Asia's law schools have the opportunity to anticipate the growing relevance of foreign law in practice and thereby ensure that they remain germane to the legal industry and society at large.

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Article
Copyright
Copyright © National University of Singapore, 2019 

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Footnotes

±

Associate Professor, School of Law, Singapore Management University. We would like to thank participants at the Conferences on Comparative Law in Asia (27 and 28 September 2017, National University of Singapore) for their helpful comments and observations.

*

Professor, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore.

References

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8. Harding and de Visser (n 5).

9. The same applies to Macao.

10. The boundary lines can at times be fluid, of course, depending on the precise syllabi: for instance, a general comparative course may also devote some time to the study of ASEAN rules alongside an examination of other Asian legal systems; similarly, subject area courses should include pertinent ASEAN or SAARC rules and policies.

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30. European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs, ‘Report on the role of the national judge in the European judicial system of 4 June 2008’ (A6-0224/2008, European Parliament 2008).

31. Resolution of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council on the training of judges, prosecutors and judicial staff in the European Union [2008] OJ C299/1.

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43. For an example of what this can look like, see Hardt, Sacha and Kornet, Nicole (eds), The Maastricht Collection (5th edn, Europa Law Publishing 2017)Google Scholar which comprises a broad selection of legal instruments and provisions in English pertaining to international and European (private) law, comparative (national) public law, and comparative (national) private law.

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47. In addition to the sources mentioned in (n 40), see eg Husa, Jaakko, ‘Metamorphosis of Functionalism – Or Back to Basics?’ (2011) 18 Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law 548CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Smits, Jan, ‘Taking Functionalism Seriously: On the Bright Future of a Contested Method’ (2011) 18 Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law 554CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Graziadei, Michele, ‘The Functionalist Heritage’ in Legrand, Pierre and Munday, Roderick (eds), Comparative Legal Studies: Traditions and Transitions (CUP 2003) 100CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Husa, Jaakko, ‘Farewell to Functionalism or Methodological Tolerance?’ (2003) 67 Rabels Zeitschrift für ausländisches und internationales Privatrecht [The Rabel Journal of Comparative and International Private Law] 419CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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51. See eg the website created by the Singapore Academy of Law <www.singaporelawwatch.sg/About-Singapore-Law/Overview> accessed 18 February 2018; the brochure by the Law Society of England and Wales, ‘England and Wales: The Jurisdiction of Choice’ (Law Society of England and Wales 2007); and the German brochure adopted in response in 2008, ‘Law – Made in Germany’ (Bundesnotarkammer (BNotK), Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer (BRAK), Deutscher Anwaltverein (DAV), Deutscher Industrieund Handelskammertag e.V. (DIHK), and Deutscher Notarverein (DNotV), Deutscher Richterbund (DRB), 2014) <www.lawmadeingermany.de/Law-Made_in_Germany_EN.pdf> accessed 18 February 2018.

52. cf eg the ASEAN International Mobility for Students (AIMS) Programme which allows students to spend one semester in a university in another ASEAN Member State, with the exception of Cambodia and Myanmar for now, but with the addition of Japan and South Korea.

53. Siems (n 48).

54. Jaakko Husa, A New Introduction to Comparative Law (Hart 2015) 197. In this sense, Husa seems to agree with the point made by Legrand, ‘The Impossibility of “Legal Transplants”’ (n 50) that legal rules consist of more than their ‘bare propositional statement’ and are imbued with context and ideology that is nationally determined.

55. See eg Harding, Andrew, ‘Comparative Law and Legal Transplantation in South East Asia: Making Sense of the “Nomic Din”’ in Nelken, David and Feest, Johannes (eds), Adapting Legal Cultures (Hart 2001)Google Scholar; Gillespie, John, Transplanting Commercial Law Reform: Developing a ‘Rule of Law’ in Vietnam (Routledge 2006) particularly ch 2Google Scholar; Chen-Wishart, Mindy, ‘Legal Transplant and Undue Influence: Lost in Translation or a Working Misunderstanding?’ (2013) 62 International and Comparative Law Quarterly 1CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Kumarasingham, H (ed), Constitution-making in Asia: Decolonisation and State-Building in the Aftermath of the British Empire (Routledge 2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.