Comparative Law and its Clients

36 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2014 Last revised: 28 Jan 2015

See all articles by Jürgen Basedow

Jürgen Basedow

Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law

Date Written: December 29, 2013


Comparative law is one method of legal research as an alternative to, or alongside, others. Its significance for the finding and evolution of the law has not always been undisputed (Part 1). In the present era of globalization it is, however, beyond doubt that the legal system of a country has to take into account the legal developments in other states. While the need for comparative legal research can therefore hardly be questioned any longer, such research may pursue very different objectives. They emerge from a closer look at the development of comparative law as an academic discipline (Part 2). The subsequent elaboration of different purposes of comparative investigations (Part 3) will finally take us to some reflections on what may be called the various "customers" of comparative law who determine these purposes (Parts 4-8). The message of this paper is twofold: First, we should accept that research in comparative law, like research in other fields, is conducted with a view to certain expectations from outside the discipline, and the results of this research serve objectives defined by those "clients" of comparative law. And second, let us realize the great variety of such objectives which determine the style and method of comparative law investigations. In fact, the embeddedness of comparative law enquiries in certain sectors of practice makes usefulness the primary yardstick for the evaluation of the methods applied.

Acknowledgement: This pre-print version is published in this Research Paper Series with the kind permission of the American Journal of Comparative Law in accordance with its Author Guidelines.

Keywords: Comparative Law, Theory and Practice, Use in Academia, Use by the Legal Professions, Use by Legislatures, Use by Unification Agencies, Living Comparison

Suggested Citation

Basedow, Jürgen, Comparative Law and its Clients (December 29, 2013). American Journal of Comparative Law (AJCL), Vol. 62, No. 4, pp. 821-857, 2014; Max Planck Private Law Research Paper No. 14/2. Available at SSRN:

Jürgen Basedow (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law ( email )

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Hamburg, 20148

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