The English Codification Debate and the Role of Jurists in the Development of Legal Doctrines
M. Lobban and J. Moses (eds.), The Impact of Ideas on Legal Development (series Comparative Studies in the Development of the Law of Torts in Europe - vol 7), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2012, 204–225.
Posted: 14 Jan 2013 Last revised: 15 Jan 2013
Date Written: 2012
Even though England never introduced a complete and comprehensive Code, several attempts were undertaken over the centuries to introduce codifying measures in certain areas of the law. The need to improve the form of the law led to the adoption of consolidating and codifying Acts. Though never resulting in an English Code, these instruments contributed to the reduction of the law into a more orderly and systematic shape. In addition to these Acts, England developed a type of legal literature that contributed to the simplification and systematisation of the law, and ultimately probably functioned as a substitute for a Code.
This chapter analyses the history of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century codification movement in England and attempts to understand why England never introduced a Code such as the one Jeremy Bentham envisaged. It asks what role legal scholars played in the debate and how they contributed to the development of the law through, what Sir Henry Maine defined as, the ‘tacit codification’ of English law.
Keywords: codification, legal scholarship, codifying Acts, sources of law
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