Comparative Law

Course number: LAW 3620

Preliminary Syllabus

This Perspectives seminar focuses on the method and matter of comparative legal studies, recorded as early as Plato’s The Republic and Aristotle’s Politics. It urges you to build outward from your knowledge of Canadian law and procedure, as taught in law school and observed in our legal system, to think alternatively and to learn from others. This course will liberate us from the Canadian monolith and will teach us how to find and focus on other law-governed systems, at: (a) the micro-level of case-based and code-based laws, Aboriginal law, religious laws, constitutional law; (b) the macro-level of international public and private laws, international trade agreements, European Union law; and, (c) the mixed, legal pluralism of modern domestic and international governance, dispute resolution and applied legal doctrines.

We will learn comparative method and matter from each other. Evaluation will be based on the intellectual quality and content of your chosen oral reports and written essays, culminating in a research paper structured to make comparisons across time, place and topic. Weekly course materials will be supplied, to supplement readings that we will voluntarily take turns reporting on, in class, available mainly on Law Library Reserve:

  • (1)Mary Ann Glendon, Paolo G. Carozza, and Colin B. Picker, Comparative Legal Traditions: Text, Materials and Cases on Western Law, 3rd ed. (N.Y. : Thomson/West, 2007);
  • (2)H. Patrick Glenn, Legal Traditions of the World, 3rd ed. (Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2007);
  • (3)Mathias Reimann and Reinhard Zimmerman (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Law (Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2006);
  • (4)Aline Grenon and Louise Bélanger-Hardy (eds.), Elements of Quebec Civil Law : A Comparison with the Common Law of Canada (Toronto : Thomson Carswell, 2008); and,
  • (5)John Henry Merryman, David S. Clark, and John Owen Haley, Comparative Law: Historical Development of the Civil Law Tradition in Europe, Latin    America and East Asia (New Providence, N.J.:LexisNexis, 2010).
  • Mauro Bussani and Ugo Mattei (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Comparative Law (Cambridge, 2012).

The course meets once each week, attendance is required and more than one absence without the Associate Dean’s written approval will reduce your final grade by five percent (5%). All three written assignments (essays and research paper) will be treated as first drafts, subject to red-ink critiques, and returned for revision prior to submission for the final grade at the end of December 2015.

Weekly Topics

  • (I)Comparative Law Epistemology and Methodology: Law Library and Internet Resources (North and South Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa); Knowing Your Own and the “Other” Law and Legal System; Alternative Thinking; Comparing Times, Places, Topics.
  • (II)Legal Transplants, Legal Pluralism, Mixed Legal Systems, Conflict of Laws: Closing Thoughts on Comparative Law and Legal Systems
  • (III)Ancient Similarities (Egypt, Assyria, Athens, China, India): Executive Will and Reasoned Dispute Resolution (War and Peace!)
  • (IV)Religious Legal Systems (medieval to modern): Jewish, Christian, Islamic; the Canadian legal status of the synagogue, church, mosque.
  • (V)Aboriginal/Indigenous Law & Legal Systems: How to find it?
  • (VI)Comparative Structures of Legislatures and Courts: Common Law and Civil Law, Cases and Codes, Criminal and Civil Procedures; the English pre-modern models for Canada’s federal and provincial jurisdictions
  • (VII)Comparative Law: British, French, Chinese, Latin American
  • (VIII)United States Law & Legal Systems
  • (IX)European Union Law & Legal Systems
  • (X)International Law & Legal Systems: Public & Private
  • (XI)Research Paper Reports/ Discussions

INSTRUCTOR: DeLloyd J. Guth, Ph.D.

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