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Intended for use in introductory courses in comparative law or civil law systems, this book is the successor edition to John Henry Merryman and David S. Clark's Comparative Law: Western European and Latin American Legal Systems (1978). It is a successor edition rather than a second edition because it reflects the truly fundamental changes that have occurred in the relationships among the world's major legal systems during the past 16 years.
First, the book recognizes the contribution of the civil law tradition to contemporary national systems in East Asia, Japan being the principal example. Second, the enlarged, 16 member-nation European Union, along with Japan and new industrial nations of East Asia and the United States, have become the principal players in world affairs. Third, with the decline of Soviet socialism has come a decline in significance in Soviet law. Fourth, one cannot ignore the increased presence of Latin America in our new multipolar world.
The aim of this book is to introduce the student to the family of legal systems common to Europe, Latin America and East Asia. A distinguishing feature of this book is its deemphasis on rules and related doctrine. Greater attention is paid to the social and intellectual climate, institutional structures, roles played by legal professionals and procedures characteristic of the legal system since these are more instructive.