How to 'Do' Legal Pluralism

12 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2007

See all articles by Miranda Forsyth

Miranda Forsyth

School of Regulation & Global Governance (RegNet)

Date Written: June 2007


This paper presents a method of using the doctrine of legal pluralism as a tool for engaging in practical law reform in legally pluralist jurisdictions. To date, the theory of legal pluralism which, fundamentally, stresses the importance of recognising that non-state legal systems, such as customary or religious systems, may co-exist together with the state system, has been used primarily by scholars to produce descriptive and non-comparative work. This paper, however, demonstrates that the theory may be used to answer fundamental normative questions about the relationships of legal systems in a particular jurisdiction. It sets out a new process that any jurisdiction may use to maximise the chances that the various legal systems that co-exist within it will operate in ways that support and enrich each other, rather than undermine and compete with each other. It is based on a doctoral study that was conducted in Vanuatu, a small island state in the South Pacific, and uses examples drawn from that study.

Keywords: Legal pluralism, non-state justice systems, customary law

JEL Classification: K40

Suggested Citation

Forsyth, Miranda, How to 'Do' Legal Pluralism (June 2007). Available at SSRN: or

Miranda Forsyth (Contact Author)

School of Regulation & Global Governance (RegNet) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics