This course provides a comparative perspective on the legal traditions of the civil law for students schooled in the common law tradition. While concentrating on seminal civil law jurisdictions such as France and Germany, this course also focuses on the civil law tradition in some developing countries of Latin America, such as Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico.
Readings on the institutions and doctrines of the civil law will be complemented with materials on the most significant social, economic and political factors that shape the legal traditions within various civil law countries, especially continental Europe and Latin America.
After a brief introduction to the practical applications of the comparative method as applied to domestic problems and international transactions, the course will trace the historical development of the civil law, including the influences of Roman law and the codification movement in continental Europe, Japan, and Latin America. The course will then examine the main institutions of the civil law tradition, focusing primarily on the legal professions and the judicial process.
The course will then examine selected legal problems taken from various areas, such as torts, contracts, and constitutional law, with comparisons to American law throughout. Attention also may be given to particular aspects of civil and criminal procedure.
This course is aimed at introducing American law students to some basic problems and techniques of comparative law that may be taken up later in more detail in other comparative law courses.