Comparative law focuses on studying the similarities and differences between the laws of various countries. The study concentrates on the different legal systems such as civil law, common law, Canon law, socialist law, Jewish law, Hindu law, and Islamic law. The study of foreign legal systems, without undertaking explicit comparison, also exists under this branch of law. Comparative law is of particular importance in the modern age where democratization, internationalization, and economic globalization are of great significance to the society.
Scholars have practiced comparative law methodologies for many years. However, the modern comparative law originated in Europe in the 18th century. One of the earliest scholars of modern comparative law is Montesquieu. In the third chapter of his book, De l’Espirit des Lois, he laid down an approach that has been used by modern scholars in the field. The book was published in 1748.
In Britain, Sir Henry James Sumner Maine, a jurist and Oxford’s first comparative law professor, pioneered the study of modern comparative law. He focused on how laws from other countries could be adopted by comparing the similarities in the institutions and political laws of the two nations. His work, Ancient Law, expressed the scholar’s view on primitive laws and comparative discussions of legal traditions in the East and West.
The increasing globalization and the adoption of foreign laws necessitated the establishment of a comparative subject at the University of Oxford in 1869. Maine was appointed to take up the position. He became the first comparative law professor in history.
The growing importance of comparative law, as necessitated by globalization, has led to the growth of sub-branches of the same. They include comparative civil law, comparative administrative law, comparative commercial law, and constitutional comparative law. Comparative law serves various purposes in the society. It helps to perfect the legal systems, help people gain a better understanding of legal systems, and assist in the unification of legal systems.
About Sujit Choudhry
Sujit Choudhry is a constitutional law expert. His expertise in the field has seen him participate in the constitution-building processes in various countries, including Nepal, South Africa, Tunisia, Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Libya, Jordan, Egypt, and Nepal. Professor Choudhry has also given public lectures in over two dozen countries.
Currently, the professor is an I. Michael Heyman Professor of Law at the University of California. Previously, he worked for the New York University as a Cecelia Goetz Professor of Law. Choudhry is also the founder and the faculty director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions. This institution aids in enhancing the constitution making process. It also enables professionals to embark on analyzing thematic research projects to come up with sound policy decisions.