LLM – Research task sheet

Hi LLM students

A few students have asked me recently for a copy of the research project task-sheet which was handed out in week 1. So, here is a link in case you didn’t get one, or have misplaced your copy: Task-sheet (2)-for-student-research-projects

Note that we agreed on some changes to it. The deadline is Wednesday 11 March for handing in the research proposals instead of 6 March. Also, we agreed to be flexible on the word count and use the 3,000-4,000 word limit as a guide rather than a hard-and-fast rule.

Please make sure that your research proposal contains all the sections recommended in the task-sheet. Please hand in a hard copy only (no USBs or emails please) on 11 March.

Hope this is useful to you.

US legal system, US Supreme Court & US Government

Hi LLM students

In the second week after the holiday, on Wednesday March 11, we are looking forward to hosting a diplomat from the US Embassy. He will speak to us about selected aspects of the US legal system.

To prepare for that guest lecture, and to give you some background information, I would like to suggest that you visit the links below. They were kindly provided to me by the US Embassy. The material was written by the US State Department. If you click on the links below, they will take you to a page where you can select to carry on in English or choose the Arabic translation of the documents, which is available at the top of the page. So you can read the same material in English or Arabic.

Please take some time before 11 March to read some of the material provided at the links below. Read whatever you find interesting. However, you might be thinking of a comparative law project that involves the US – in which case this might be useful even before the 11 March guest lecture.

We will discuss some of this material in class on Monday 9 March. Print it if you like. Leave a reply if you want to share your thoughts on this reading.

e-Book: Outline of US Legal System

e-Book: The US Supreme Court: Justice Under the Law 

e-Book:  Outline of US Government 

Let me know if you have any trouble with the links.

Video on Legal Positivism

Hi Social Theory students,

Here is a video on Hart’s theory of law. We viewed it in class today (Sunday) and will also look at tomorrow (Monday) for those of you who take the Mon class. We may not view the whole video in class but feel free to watch it all when you have time.

And if you enjoyed that, Here is a video which is a short summary of Legal Positivism, by the same lecturer.

There are quite a few videos posted online that relate to Natural Law and Legal Positivism: have a look and see what’s out there. Let us know class if you find one that you think is really useful and we can watch it in class.

I don’t think watching a video is a substitute for reading, but sometimes hearing and seeing the material presented in a different way is helpful. Let me know your thoughts.

Courts, judges and lawyers – comparative analysis

Hi LLM students

We are about to begin a new topic, looking at various aspects of courts, judges and lawyers in France, the UK, the US and Kuwait.

We will look at slideshow #3 on Monday. Click here to see it: comparative-law-lecture-3-v2-France- 2015-courts-lawyers-and-judges.

To prepare for Monday, please also read the PDF at this link from the French Ministry of Justice.

If possible, please bring both the reading and the slideshow to class with you. We will try to cover this material in Monday and, if necessary, Wednesday’s class.

PS – Here is an interesting and short article from the International Bar Association about the requirements to be met before French lawyers (avocet) become qualified to practice.

Starting a company…some comparisons between Kuwait and NZ

Hi LLM students

One of the 10 indicators in the “Doing Business” annual report from the World Bank group, is the ease of starting a business. They look at this across 189 countries.

Here is a summary about starting a business in NZ, all of the steps are done online.

Here is a summary about starting a business in Kuwait.

Here is a link to an article about the Minister of Youth in Kuwait calling on youth to be more involved in the country’s economic and political development.

Legal origins and financial development

Hi LLM students

We are coming to an end of your study of legal families. Before we do, I want to draw to your attention an area of scholarship that has arisen from studying legal families.

When you were reading Mariana Pargendler’s article on legal families, you might have noticed her refer to the connection between legal families and “the growing literature that seeks to ascertain the economic consequences of legal rules, institutions and traditions”. That literature, sometimes called the “law and finance” literature, is briefly referred to in footnote 10 of her article (see course materials p125).  The last article she cites in footnote 10 is by Mathias Siems. I have obtained that article, published inn the McGill University Law Journal. You will find it in your course materials at p193.

I think this is an important field in comparative law and one that you should be aware of, even if you don’t agree with all the conclusions. Please read Siems’ article.

In his article, at footnote 6, he refers to an annual report by the World Bank called “Doing Business”. That is a really interesting report on the ease of doing in business in 189 countries. It is a great data set because it looks at 189 countries, across 10 different indicators, to see how easy it is (or how difficult) to do business in them. Here is a link to the 2014 World Bank Doing Business Report.

It is interesting to look at the countries which are financially developed and compare it with your knowledge of those countries legal systems. We will talk about this in class tonight, 23 February, inshaAllah.

PS – for a closer description of what the ‘Doing Business’ annual report is about, and for criticism of it, see this article: Can we rank legal systems 26WashUJLPoly55

Social Theory – Legal Positivism

Hi Social Theory students

This half-week we will focus on H.L.A. Hart’s theory of law. After the break, we will complete that then we will briefly review the Natural Law and Legal Positivism units. InshaAllah that review will be followed directly by a 5% test. The test will cover both Natural Law and Legal Positivism.

If you miss a handout, here they are:

Bentham Bentham – A quick summer 2015

Austin  John Austin a quick summary 2015

Hart: H.L. A Hart – a quick summary – a copy of Hart will be given out this Sunday 22 February and Monday 23 February during class.

In addition, I encourage you to do some reading either from Raymond Wacks’ books or from the book on my website (Denis Pattison – the e-book called “A Companion to the Philosophy of Law) or from any other book in the library that covers legal positivism.

Happy reading!

Research project

Hi LLM students

Here is a basic format for the Bibliography. You should have a bibliography in the research proposal and you should add to it by the time you submit your essay. A bibliography lists all the resources you used in putting your research together. It is usually divided into sections, although different people do that differently. In the template above, I have given a possible format. You can change that if you think its necessary and justifiable.

As for the exact way of listing your sources, I will distribute the KILAW rules on that as soon as they are updated and available to me. In the meantime, you may use any article in the course readings as a guide. Whatever style you opt for, please be consistent throughout.

Civil law v common law

Hi LLM students

Here are some resources which help us understand the differences between civil law and common law legal systems. These are in addition to the readings in your materials, especially readings 10 and 11. It’s important to grasp an understanding of how civil law and common law systems differ, and how the lines are blurring.

Reading….if you prefer to read:

Here is a very short blog post which is quite easy to read and raises some simple points. And here is a blog post from The Economist magazine which also raises some good points.

Viewing….if you prefer to watch or listen:

Here is a video from the University of Florida explaining key differences between civil law and common law. It’s about 15 mins long but is interesting and covers many points discussed in the readings.


So, here is a video (5 mins) that gives one person’s perspective on the big differences

And here is an audio (10 mins) of an interview on the BBC between some comparative law scholars on the differences.

Using Shari’a law in US courts: controversial topic

Hi LLM students,

Lately we have been discussing the way that comparative law is sometimes used by the judiciary. We looked at the US and Canada as examples of how Supreme Court justices can use foreign law when writing their opinions. The US seems very sensitive in the area of constitutional law to the use of foreign law.

A slightly different issue is the use of foreign law in other areas (eg, family, inheritance law)

Many US states have recently discussed banning courts from using Shari’a law to resolve disputes. 

To get a quick summary of this issue, click here: Ban on Shari’a law in US courts as summarised in Wikipedia.

“Foreign Law” bans – a summary

What is this all about?

To date, about 32 states in the US have introduced and debated laws proposing to ban the use of foreign or religious law in courts.

Here is a link to an interesting summary of this issue: and here is a link to the full pdf report of about 40 pages in length 


Some videos of interest on this topic: 

  1. Abed Awad on the use of foreign law (12 mins)
    1. In this video he is outlining why a foreign law ban will take away a judge’s ability to appropriately consider foreign law
    2. He argues that it is unconstitutional for a state legislature to dictate to a court what it can and cannot consider when deciding a case.
    3. Why are the bans on foreign laws wrong? Two reasons
    4. a. Conflict of laws: he talks about situations where a US court might want to take into account Shari’a law in another country. The foreign law applies because of ‘conflict of law’ issues. So according to those rules, according to American law, the court must look at the foreign law
    5. b. Extrinsic law: a judge might be looking at a Muslim marriage contract in the US, he might want to hear testimony about what Muslim law says about marriage before applying state law. For example, a Muslim dies and wants property to be distributed according to Islamic rules. So the court might want to hear expert evidence about the religious law.
    6. He says that US courts must be able to look at the applicable law
    7. Everything he talks about, he says, is subject to public policy – for example, recognition of a Syrian divorce decree. The court in Tennessee would not recognize an automatic transfer of custody (done in Syria) because a woman remarried. The US court would not apply the foreign law because it would be ‘contrary to public policy’.
    8. Another example: a divorce under Islam, woman wants her dower, the marriage was made in Abu Dhabi, the man says that the court can’t enforce the contract made in Abu Dhabi because the law violates public policy: court said otherwise and made the man pay the woman her dower. So, judges can use the public policy sensibly.
    9. The US doesn’t need a foreign law ban. The impetus behind the anti-shari’a movement is nothing but bigotry
    10. Fazia Patel introduces a longer video (about 1 hr 33 min)
      1. Anti-Muslim laws (started out as foreign law bans): courts shouldn’t apply foreign law if it violates public policy; but courts have long applied foreign law
      2. Judge Henry (at about 15 mins) is really interesting on using foreign references in US courts
      3. Other interesting links:
        1. The man behind the anti-shari’a movement David Yerushalmi as featured in the New York Times. This link has two short but interesting videos – one from the Jewish perspective, one from the Islamic perspective
        2. Wikipedia page on “the Ban on Sharia” has some good links and basic information.