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A Short Introduction to the Common Law

Geoffrey Samuel, Professor, Kent Law School, UK, and Professor affilié, École de droit, Sciences-Po, Paris, France
This book provides a short, accessible introduction to the English common law tradition, in particular to the civil process.

It adopts an approach which explains the historical development of the common law institutions and procedures whilst also setting them in perspective through a comparative outlook. Aspects of the common law are contrasted on occasions with structural or functional equivalents (or near equivalents) in the civil law. The key topics covered include: the English civil courts (and other dispute resolution institutions and alternatives), civil procedure, remedies, sources of law, legal reasoning, legal education, legal theories, legal institutions and concepts and legal categories. In addition to textual description and analysis, the book makes frequent use of visual diagrams to explain and to illustrate aspects of the common law.
Extent: 208 pp
Hardback Price: $120.00 Web: $108.00
Publication Date: 2013
ISBN: 978 1 78254 637 5
Availability: In Stock
Paperback Price: $41.95 Web: $33.56
Publication Date: 2014
ISBN: 978 1 78254 950 5
Availability: In Stock
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An ideal textbook to introduce the common law to advanced international students.

This book provides a short, accessible introduction to the English common law tradition, in particular to the civil process.

It adopts an approach which explains the historical development of the common law institutions and procedures whilst also setting them in perspective through a comparative outlook. Aspects of the common law are contrasted on occasions with structural or functional equivalents (or near equivalents) in the civil law. The key topics covered include: the English civil courts (and other dispute resolution institutions and alternatives), civil procedure, remedies, sources of law, legal reasoning, legal education, legal theories, legal institutions and concepts and legal categories. In addition to textual description and analysis, the book makes frequent use of visual diagrams to explain and to illustrate aspects of the common law.

Providing both an overview of the English common law and an insight into the legal mentality of common lawyers, the book will appeal both to first year law students as well as to continental jurists who are investigating the common law for the first time.
‘Geoffrey Samuel's A Short Introduction to the Common Law published by Edward Elgar, is a book every student of English law should read – and certainly any continental lawyer or jurist coming from a civil law tradition will undoubtedly find the English common law easier to understand after having read this book. . . Any student of the common law should make this book an obligatory purchase.’
– Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor, The Barrister Magazine

‘Geoffrey Samuel’s distinctive approach is to present the English common law in the light of its history and its dominant ideas. A student will learn not only what are the major rules of private law and civil law procedure, but will grasp the spirit of the common law. He will thus learn why they exist in a particular form and how common lawyers make them work. Civilian terms are used to provide a guide for the student from a civil law system to understand the initially strange terms and approaches of the common lawyer. This book is clear and insightful. It should be read particularly by Masters students and those embarking on a doctorate involving study of the common law.’
– John Bell, Pembroke College, UK

‘To write a good introduction to the common law aimed mainly at civil lawyers is a real challenge. One needs not only to master the common law, its history and its sociological backgrounds, but also to understand how the prospective readers think in their own civilian legal systems. With his longstanding teaching activities in civil law countries, his obvious deep knowledge of the historical roots of civil and common law, Geoffrey Samuel offers here a book which should be pressed into everyone’s hands across the civil law world. Finally, we get here an introduction to the common law truly written for civil lawyers and students, which is easy to understand and thoughtful. A brilliant piece for which the author should be praised.’
– Pascal Pichonnaz, University of Fribourg, Switzerland

‘Common law has remained enigmatic for lawyers from the civil law legal culture. This book presents a wonderfully compact introduction to the English common law and explains concisely why it is as it is today. Geoffrey Samuel offers insightful and scholarly first-rate representation of those characteristics which stand out for the civil law lawyer. Clarifying and supporting diagrams are especially helpful for non-common law lawyers. Samuel’s A Short Introduction to the Common Law is highly recommended for anyone looking for clear and fluently written basic insight into the common law and its historical foundation.’
– Jaakko Husa, University of Lapland, Finland
Contents: Preface Introduction 1. Development of the English Courts 2. Development of the English Procedural Tradition 3. English Law Remedies 4. English Legal Education and English Legal Thought (1): Sources and Methods 5. English Legal Education and English Legal Thought (2): Academic Theories 6. Legal Institutions and Concepts in the Common Law (1): Persons and Things 7. Legal Institutions and Concepts in the Common Law (2): Causes of Action and Obligations Concluding Remarks Bibliography Index