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Western Legal Traditions: A Comparison of Civil Law and Common Law
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Western Legal Traditions: A Comparison of Civil Law and Common Law

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Published 11 Aug 2015 (Federation Press)
ISBN: 9781760020293. Soft cover, 208 pages.

By Martin Vranken

The rule of law constitutes the hallmark of contemporary Western society. However, public perceptions and attitudes to the law can vary in space and time. This book explores legal solutions to selected problem scenarios in their broader historical, economic, political and societal context. The focus is on the legal traditions of civil law and common law.

The book is premised on the assumption – indeed, the conviction – that use of the comparative method both facilitates and promotes a deeper understanding of the society in which we live and the rules by which it is shaped. Major ‘threads’ that run through the book are the relationship between law and morality, the role of the state in regulating human interaction, as well as the relationship between the state and the individual.

As a practical matter, the text is divided into 3 Parts. A first Part provides various building blocks for a discussion of ‘the law in action’ in the second and main Part of the book. A final Part addresses the issue of regional globalisation and its impact on the traditional divide between civil law and common law. An Appendix contains the full text of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.



Part A: Building Blocks

1. System Building in Law 
            Introductory Observations 
            Structure of this Book 
            Comparativism and the Legacy of Kahn-Freund 
            System Building: Pioneering Role of Zweigert & Kötz and David & Brierley 
            Further Reading

2. Codes and Codification in the Civil Law 
            Formal and Substantive Codes Distinguished 
            Substantive Codes: Features 
            Life Beyond the Code 
            Further Reading

3. Judges and Precedent in the Common law 
            Contrast with the Civil Law 
            Blame the French? 
            Further Reading

Part B: Law in Action

4. The Blame Game: Who should bear the Cost of Accidents? 
           Basic Terminology 
           How to prove Fault? 
           Judicial Move away from Fault in France 
           Role of the Legislature in the Common Law 
           In Conclusion 
           Further Reading

5. Duty to Rescue: To Act or Not to Act? 
           Beyond the Blame Game? 
           Position at Common Law 
           Position at Civil Law 
           Rejoinder: Role of the Legislature in the Common Law 
           Further Reading

6. Law and Morality: Where is the Harm? 
           Harm: The Broader Context 
           Harm: The (Legal) Concept 
           Harm: Special Problems 
           Further Reading

7. Industrial Democracy: In Search of Utopia? 
           The Broader Context 
           Approaches to Employee Protection 
           European Forms of Workplace Participation 
           Further Reading

8. Court Procedure 
           May the Best Man Win? 
           The traditional Adversarial/Inquisitorial Dichotomy 
           The Damaska Alternative: Models of Authority 
           May the Best Man Win (After All)? 
           Excursus: Procedural Law in Germany (by Anne Kallies) 
           Further Reading

9. Good Faith in Contract Law 
           Setting the Scene 
           Good Faith and the Common Law 
           Good Faith and the Civil Law 
           Rejoinder: Does Good Faith in Contract Law make Economic Sense? 
           Further Reading

Part C: Globalisation and the Law

10. Legal Order of the European Union 
           Setting the Scene 
           From Historical Accident to Globalisation in Action? 
           Institutional Make-Up of the European Union 
           Law-Making in the European Union 
           One Big Melting Pot? 
           Further Reading

11. Theories of Convergence and Divergence 
           A Common Law of Europe? 
           Are European Legal Systems Converging or Diverging? 
           Europe and Beyond 
           Case Study: Fundamental Human Rights 
           Further Reading

Appendix: Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union


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