How to 'Do' Legal Pluralism
12 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2007
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: Suggested Citation