Legal Culture as Mental Software, or: How to Overcome National Legal Culture?

PRIVATE LAW AND THE MANY CULTURES OF EUROPE, Thomas Wilhelmsson, Elina Paunio, Annika Pohjolainen, eds., Alphen aan den Rijn, pp. 141-151, 2007

Maastricht Faculty of Law Working Paper No. 2007-2

16 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2007 Last revised: 14 Aug 2010

See all articles by Jan M. Smits

Jan M. Smits

Maastricht University Faculty of Law - Maastricht European Private Law Institute (M-EPLI)

Abstract

The concept of legal culture plays an important role in the debate about the unification of private law within the European Union. The question whether national cultural differences or differences between the civil law and the common law tradition, in particular, stand in the way of establishing a uniform private law led to a fierce debate. The aim of this contribution is to offer a general account of how we should deal with legal culture in the European context. In doing so, we build upon the work of Geert Hofstede. The point is made that when discussing the Europeanization of private law, we should turn away from national legal cultures and pay more attention to so-called 'cultural segments', legal cultures that are not national but functional in nature and that cross state borders. This is not to say that such an approach can be applied easily: the problems it raises will also be discussed.

Keywords: legal culture, unification, Hofstede

JEL Classification: A14, K10, P51

Suggested Citation

Smits, Jan M., Legal Culture as Mental Software, or: How to Overcome National Legal Culture?. PRIVATE LAW AND THE MANY CULTURES OF EUROPE, Thomas Wilhelmsson, Elina Paunio, Annika Pohjolainen, eds., Alphen aan den Rijn, pp. 141-151, 2007; Maastricht Faculty of Law Working Paper No. 2007-2. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1007447

Jan M. Smits (Contact Author)

Maastricht University Faculty of Law - Maastricht European Private Law Institute (M-EPLI) ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, NL-6200 MD
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.jansmits.eu

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