Comparative Law and African Customary Law

T. W. Bennett

in The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Law

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780199296064
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Law

Comparative Law and African Customary Law


Customary law grows out of the social practices which a given jural community has come to accept as obligatory. It is a pervasive normative order, providing the regulatory framework for spheres of human activity as diverse as the family, the neighbourhood, the business of merchant banking, or international diplomacy. This article looks at the customary laws of sub-Saharan Africa. It deals with the preservation of the law in an oral tradition and how it has been influenced by certain social, economic, and political structures. This focus requires, in turn, that particular attention be paid to factors influencing the production of texts on customary law. Because information on the subject is limited, outdated, and somewhat subjective, readers must be made aware of how changes in the theories of jurisprudence and anthropology have affected ideas and preconceptions.

Keywords: customary law; Africa; legal pluralism; legal anthropology; international diplomacy

Article.  14440 words. 

Subjects: Law ; Comparative Law

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