Comparative Law

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Comparative Law
Humanities Course
Course CodeCLAW
Year Opened2019
Sites OfferedHKU
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Course Description

From the CTY Course Catalog (2019):

When a citizen of mainland China goes to court, they encounter a legal system based on a synthesis of Confucian traditions, civil law elements borrowed from continental European countries after the Revolution of 1911, and socialist law from the Revolution of 1949. However, under China’s principle of “one country, two systems”, the residents of Hong Kong face laws that derive much of their origin from the English common law tradition imported from Britain. What are the similarities and differences between these systems? How do they compare to legal systems around the world in their origins, development, and effects? Moreover, as seen in examples such as the United States, Pakistan, and others, how have the legal systems of various societies influenced one another in modern times through what are called legal transplants? And, with the increasing interdependence of globalization, are the legal systems of the world undergoing what scholars label convergence or harmonization?

Through investigating such questions, this course seeks to provide students a foundation in comparative law, a growing field in universities and law schools around the world. Students will research primary and secondary sources to analyze and compare the major legal systems, or “families,” of the modern world. These families include common law (Anglo-American systems), civil law (in continental Europe and Latin America), religious law (Islamic, Jewish, and Hindu approaches), and East Asian systems (namely China’s). In comparing these systems, students will examine the sources of law and the role of courts, precedent, and procedure in various nations as well as selected aspects of legal subfields such as criminal, business, family, and environmental law. Lessons and activities will include student presentations, debates, case studies, and simulations. By the end of the course, students will be able to synthesize larger, critical understandings based on the patterns they discern.

Comparative Law is open to all students with a qualifying score in the humanities and writing and does not require prerequisite coursework or knowledge; it may be of special interest to students considering advanced study at the next level in legal studies or political science among other similar fields.

Course History

Hong Kong

At 19.1, CLAW was taught by Carolle Im and was TA'd by Claudia Tam.