UofT Law faculty authors: 

Valcke, C. (2019). Comparing legal styles. International Journal of Law in Context, 15(3), 274-296. doi:10.1017/S1744552319000284


The question of legal ‘style’ is a central one in comparative law, as mainstream comparative law tends to downplay its importance. The kinds of comparative law scholarship that have attracted most attention in the last decades – the ‘harmonisation projects’ and the ‘legal origins’ literature (perhaps also the ‘legal formant’ literature) – indeed adopt a functionalistic approach to legal systems, whereby only the outcome of judicial decisions (and the factors causally feeding into them) matters – that is, their style does not. This narrow perspective has led to arguments in favour of harmonisation of law worldwide – the thesis according to which law everywhere does and should converge so as to facilitate transnational commerce and globalisation more generally. I propose to argue that legal style matters, as law is about much more than just resolving disputes. Specifically, it is also, and most importantly, a collective statement of identity. To illustrate, I plan on analysing some of the most striking stylistic differences between French and English law, and outline the different such statements emerging from them.

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