Electronic versions of the course materials

Hi LLM students

I’ve received a request to make the electronic versions of the course materials available. I can’t do that for most of the chapters from Zweigert and Kotz because most of them were scanned on a machine that does not create a pdf. However, I can post online the electronic version of most of the articles in your course materials. So, if you want them, here they are:

Reading #3 Helena Whalen-Bridge, “The Reluctant Comparativist…” Helena Whalen-Bridge “The Reluctant Comparativist…”


Reading #4 David Seipp

US judges: election or appointment?

Hi LLM students,

In the US there is a difference between how federal and state judges get their positions.

Federal judges are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. This process can be called “appointment” because the judges are selected based on merit, length of service,  etc and then appointed to the bench. Appointment of judges allows for judges to be selected from all groups in society – people who are best qualified and most suited to the job should get appointed.

State judges, however, are mainly elected. The  majority of US states ( read 39 out of 50) have political elections to elect their state judges. That means, state judges run a campaign to get on the bench, just like politicians run a campaign to get elected. After a period of time, they have to stand for re-election. The voters in their state choose their judges.

This is quite interesting and it raises the question: which is better? Appointment or election?

Here is an article from The Economist stating some of the issues.

And here is  a short paper setting out the arguments for and against appointment and election.

Here is a link from the US State dept with general information on how state judiciaries are organized.  And here is a link with general information on how the federal judiciary is organized.

What do you think?  Should judges be appointed or elected? Which method do you prefer, and why?

Guest: Dr Alessandra Gonzalez coming to KILAW on Monday 7th April

Hi everyone

On Monday 7th April, I have a guest coming to KILAW. Her name is Dr Alessandra Gonzalez. She will be a visiting professor at KILAW for one day. She will give a guest lecture in both of my Social Theory and Law classes and in my LLM Comparative Legal Systems class.

Here’s a brief biography about Dr Gonzalez:

Dr. Alessandra L.González is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in the Department of Politics at Princeton University conducting research on Women’s Activists in the Arab Spring. Dr. González is also a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Studies of Religion at Baylor University in central Texas. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in Sociology from Baylor University and received a B.A. in Sociology and Policy Studies from Rice University. She has written several academic publications and presented her work in various academic settings. Her latest book is ‘Islamic Feminism in Kuwait: The Politics and Paradoxes’ (Palgrave Macmillan Press).

I will hand out some material closer to the time of her visit. But in the meantime you might want to do some reading.

1. There are a number of new books in the library about women and Islam.

2. Here is a link to an interview with Dr Alessandra Gonzalez which appeared in the Arab  Times online.

3. Here is a link to a page about her book.

4. If you want to watch a short video about women’s rights in Kuwait featuring Kuwaiti women, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzFvLNuFnSA 

Please mark Monday 7th April in your diary. I think it will be a really interesting class so make sure you’re on time on the 7th April.


Social Theory – legal positivism

Hi Social Theory students

After the National Day/Liberation Day break we will be looking at legal positivism for 2-3 classes. Then we will have the 5% in-class test. The test will cover both Natural Law and Legal Positivism.

If you want to do some reading during the break and prepare for the weeks ahead you can:

1. Google ‘legal positivism’ and read a few web pages about it.

2. Take a look at slideshow #2 and read the slides on legal positivism. Translate if you need to.

3. Take a look at this handout on Bentham Jeremy Bentham – a quick summary or this handout on Austin John Austin – a quick summary or this handout on Hart: H.L. A Hart – a quick summary

I will print these and hand them out in class but if you want to get a head start, here they are.

Happy reading!

Current Legal Issues – Lecture 6: Self-defence and Article 51

Hi Current Legal Issues students

This week we will begin to look at self-defense and Article 51 of the UN Charter. This is lecture (or topic) 6.

Here current-legal-issues-lecture-6-Art-51 is a slideshow that contains the main material. Please download and read/print it. Bring it to class with you so you can take notes. If you are not coming to class today (Sunday 23 February due to the holiday later in the week) please make sure that you have a look at the slides before class on Sunday 2 March.

Please let me know if you have any comments on this topic (Leave a Reply) or any problems downloading the file.

Happy reading!

See you in class.


US legal system, US Supreme Court and US Government

Hi LLM students

In the second week after the holiday, we are looking forward to hearing a speaker from the US Embassy talk about some aspects of the US legal system. That is scheduled for 10 March. Please mark  it in your diaries.

In the meantime, the US Embassy has very kindly provided some links to excellent background reading material. This 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 10 March to check out the material provided below. Of course it’s not expected that you will read all of it. 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 10 March guest lecture. We will discuss some of this material in class. 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.

Have a nice holiday. Happy reading!


Having trouble with a file?

Hi everyone

If you have trouble with a link and can’t download something that you want, such as a Powerpoint or a PDF, please post a comment to that effect or write me an email. I will attach the file in an email.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

Kind regards

Courts and lawyers in France and in the UK

Hi LLM students

On Monday I asked you all to pass by the copy centre sometime and pick up a copy of the readings that we  will talk about after the holiday. I am going to put a link here to the same material in case you prefer to download it rather than print it. I want to express my thanks to Zainab Ali for her efforts in scanning/photocopying and making the copying available. JazakAllahkheir.

These are two short extracts from Introduction to Comparative Law by Zweigert and Kotz. They are listed on the cover of the CM as item 13. They both refer to courts and lawyers – in France and England respectively. I will write a separate post on some excellent information on the US legal system that has just come to hand. Please take some time to read this material before we cover it after the holiday next week.

chapter 9

chapter 15

If you want to find additional information about courts and lawyers in France, here is a link with some basic information.


Reading #3: Legal families

Hi LLM students

This week we are going to look at legal families. The reading for this week (as announced in class last week) is: 1) An extract from Zweigert and Kotz called “The Style of Legal Families” which is located at course materials  (CM) 116-121. 2) An article by Mariana Pargendler called “The Rise and Decline of Legal Families” at CM 122-154. It’s quite a lot of reading but I think it is interesting and it covers a lot of ground.

If you can’t read it all closely, skip through it the first time, look at the main headings and topics and then go back later and read it more closely. Don’t try to read it all at once – take it a few pages at a time. Don’t stress yourself out about getting it read. Read as much as you can manage, when you can manage. Take notes in the margins if you want. Use a highlighter when you see something that you like/want to come back to/might be useful. Once you have attempted the reading, please feel free to “Leave a Reply”.

I am really interested in your feedback. Which reading did you find more interesting? Which did you find more useful? And why?

Also, here is a link to the Powerpoint that I will use in class this week.  You can download/print it if you wish:

To download this ppt file:

1. On PC right click and then save. On a Mac, hold down Control and then click: choose Download Linked File, or save file to download.

2. Go to where you downloaded your file and click once on it to rename it. You need to delete this ending: .html so that the name of the file should look like this: Lecture-2-Legal-Families3.pptx – (notice that the file name must end in .pptx)

3. Double click on it after you have re-named it, and bingo, it should now open in Power Point. if it does not open, then open your Power Point programe and go to file menu and choose open file and select it.


See you all on Monday at 4.30 inshaAllah.