Comparative law can be simply explained as the study of different legal systems by comparing them to each other. It involves placing the different global legal systems side by side and drawing the similarities and differences between them.
Origin of comparative law
Comparative law has always been a concept practiced among legal scholars, way back before the 18th century. Comparative law became globally known after the 18th century with its advent in Europe. Montesquieu was the first legal scholar to have founded the initial pillars for studying comparative law.
In his book, De l’esprit des lois, Montesquieu states that the civil and political laws of every nation should be structured in a way that creates harmony between the said nations. Comparative laws should be relatable to each government and align with its principle—whether they define the government itself or complement its rule.
Montesquieu went ahead to compare the penal laws of both the French and English to determine which is more acceptable. In the end, he observed that for one to determine which penal law is most agreeable to the other, one must carry out an in-depth and holistic view of each law in their current settings.
Henry Maine was the pioneer of anthropological and comparative jurisprudence in Britain in late 18th century. He set out on a journey of unearthing the ancient laws of the eastern and western Europe through the primitive societies that dwelt in that time. After Henry Maine, comparative law became widely known in Britain earning a publication at the Oxford University in 1869. Maine was the elected professor at the time to teach the concept of comparative law at the university.
Branching out of comparative law
Since then comparative law has diversified and branched out to different specialized disciplines.
About Sujit Choundry
Sujit Choundry is a professor of Law at the University of California in Berkeley. He is also an internationally recognized figure in the subject of comparative law. He employs a number of research methodologies and field experience to come up with legal solutions that are applied in constitution structuring processes. He has acted as a comparative law advisor to many countries like Sri Lanka, South Africa, Jordan, Libya, Egypt and Nepal.
He has conducted lectures in over 24 countries where his research findings have helped solve the many quagmires faced in designing a new constitution. Sujit Choundry is also the founder of Center for Constitutional Transitions, where he is the faculty director.