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When British authorities established colonies in North America and the antipodes (New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Fiji) from the early seventeenth to the late nineteenth centuries, they introduced law through Parliamentary statutes and colonial office oversight.
Jurists set aside some aspects of English Common Law to meet the special conditions of the settler societies, but both the 'responsible governments' that were eventually created in the colonies and the British immigrants themselves set aside even more of the English law, exercising 'informal law' - popular norms - in its place. Law and popular norms clashed over a range of issues, including ready access to land, the property rights of aboriginal people, and crown/corporate liability for negligent maintenance and operation of roads, bridges, and railways.
Drawing on extensive archival and library sources in England, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, Karsten explores these collisions and arrives at surprising conclusions.