Mixing Legal Systems in the British Empire
Mitra Sharafi, "Mixing Legal Systems in the British Empire," talk presented at mini-plenary session, "Histories of Empire and Legal Pluralism--Mixed Legal Systems around the Globe," Law and Society Association meeting (New Orleans, 4 June 2016), 1-10 (unpublished)
11 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2020
Date Written: June 3, 2020
This talk was given as part of a mini-plenary session on histories of empire and legal pluralism at the New Orleans meeting of the Law and Society Association in 2016. It examines mixed legal systems in the British empire between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, focusing on fusions of Roman law or various bodies of personal law with common law. The history of the legal profession sheds light on how new kinds of mixed legal systems became feasible at particular times. Legal pluralism in the form of diverse legal systems administered by the state emerged through practicality as much as principle. As a result, the question for British colonial officials was perhaps not so much "what bodies of non-Anglo law should we retain, as a matter of principle?" as "what bodies of non-Anglo law can we retain, as a matter of personnel and practice?"
Keywords: legal pluralism, empire, colonialism, history of the legal profession, Scottish law, Roman law, South Asia, ecclesiastical law, personal law, law and religion
JEL Classification: Y8: Related Disciplines, Y9: Other
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