Functional, Systemic Comparisons of Legal Systems

Richard A. Posner

in Law and Legal Theory in England and America

Published in print January 1997 | ISBN: 9780198264712
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682773 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Law Lectures

Functional, Systemic Comparisons of Legal Systems

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This lecture compares two operating legal systems, the English and American. By ‘system’ it means a set of interrelated, interacting parts, each of which has a function in making the system work. Failure to consider the operating level of a legal system is a traditional shortcoming of legal scholarship. The discussion uses the method of functional, systemic comparison to argue that piecemeal reform of a legal system, specifically the English legal system, is very risky and that a full comparison of the English and American legal systems, or of any two legal systems, requires the use of techniques unfamiliar to lawyers. The lecture closes by offering some conjectures about the bearing of legal culture on the differences that the analysis in all three lectures has discerned between English and American law.

Keywords: legal systems; piecemeal reform; litigation; contact law; accident cases; criminal cases; United States; legal culture; English law

Chapter.  18286 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Law

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