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Dauchy, S., Bryson, W., Mirow, M. (Eds.) (2010). Ratio decidendi. Guiding Principles of Judicial Decisions. Vol. 2: 'Foreign' Law. Duncker & Humblot.
Dauchy, Serge; Bryson, W. Hamilton and Mirow, Matthew C.. Ratio decidendi: Guiding Principles of Judicial Decisions. Vol. 2: 'Foreign' Law. Duncker & Humblot, 2010. Book.
Dauchy, S, Bryson, W, Mirow, M (eds.) (2010): Ratio decidendi: Guiding Principles of Judicial Decisions. Vol. 2: 'Foreign' Law, Duncker & Humblot, [online]


Ratio decidendi

Guiding Principles of Judicial Decisions. Vol. 2: 'Foreign' Law

Editors: Dauchy, Serge | Bryson, W. Hamilton | Mirow, Matthew C.

Comparative Studies in Continental and Anglo-American Legal History, Vol. 25/2


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Ratio decidendi is a technical legal term of art in Anglo-American jurisprudence, a concept opposed to the idea of obiter dictum. Ratio decidendi is the reason of the judge in coming to a judicial decision in a lawsuit presented to the court by the litigants for an official decision. Obiter dictum is whatever else a judge might say in passing. This concept of ratio decidendi operated very differently in the different nations of Western Europe and their former colonies at different periods of early-modern history as is demonstrated in the first volume (25/1) which was published in 2006.

The second volume focuses on a specific aspect of ratio decidendi: the use by the courts of foreign law as the basis of their decisions when appropriate to the issues to be decided in a particular case brought to them by the litigants. The term foreign law refers to law that is not part of the law binding upon the court, in other words law outside the court’s system of jurisprudence. Thus, one must consider what is domestic law in order to discern what is foreign to, or outside of, it. These comparative essays thus center on what law is foreign in various continental and Anglo-American legal systems from the Middle Ages until the 20th century and how it supports legal arguments and decisions.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Table of Contents 5
W. Hamilton Bryson: Introductionr 7
Knut Wolfgang Nörr: Iura novit curia: aber auch fremdes Recht? Eine rechtsgeschichtliche Skizze 9
I. Zur Einführung 9
II. Positio iuris, positio facti 10
III. Statuta: die Distinktion des Bartolus 11
IV. Richterliche Suppletion 12
V. Ein Erlass Bonifaz’ VIII. 13
VI. Stillstand des Themas am Reichskammergericht 14
VII. Neues und Altes aus der Historischen Rechtsschule 15
Albrecht Cordes: Acceptance and Rejection of ‘Foreign’ Legal Doctrine by the Council of Lubeck Around 1500 17
I. 17
II. 23
III. 33
Alain Wijffels: Orbis exiguus. Foreign Legal Authorities in Paulus Christinaeus’s Law Reports 37
I. The paradoxes of foreign law from a ius commune perspective 38
II. Christinaeus’s Decisiones 42
III. The ambit of ius commune in Christinaeus’s perspective 45
IV. Customary law 47
V. Statute law 50
VI. Case law 53
VII. Foreign law in ius commune literature before the relative nationalisation of legal scholarship 60
Serge Dauchy / Véronique Demars-Sion: Foreign Law as ratio decidendi. The ‘French’ Parlement of Flanders in the Late 17th and Early 18th Centuries 63
I. Assert local identity by refusing to apply ‘foreign’ French Law 68
II. Integration of the jurisdiction’s foreign law: local particularity vs. royal efforts of assimilation and standardization 74
A. Mark Godfrey: Ratio Decidendi and Foreign Law in the History of Scots Law 81
Introduction 81
I. Private International Law 86
II. Roman Law 92
III. English Law 100
Conclusion 104
Juan Javier Del Granado / Alejandro Mayagoitia: Roman Law and ratio decidendi in Spanish Colonial Law 16th through the 19th Centuries 107
I. The law of Castile (as well as Roman law) were local law in the Americas 108
II. The law the Indies comprises a highly sophisticated body of caselaw 110
James Oldham: Foreign Law in the English Common Law of the Late Eighteenth Century 113
Conclusion 126
W. Hamilton Bryson: The Use of Roman Law in Virginia Courts 127
Jean-Louis Halpérin: Foreign Law in French Courts from 1804 to 1945, with the Example of the Law of Trusts 139
I. 140
II. 147
Georges Martyn: In Search of Foreign Influences, other than French, in Nineteenth-Century Belgian Court Decisions 155
Introduction 155
I. Research on published court decisions 157
II. References to foreign law, other than French, are non-existent 161
III. Not only case law, but also general ‘legal culture’ 163
IV. Change after the Second World War 166
Conclusion 167
Heikki Pihlajamäki: “Stick to the Swedish law”: The Use of Foreign Law in Early Modern Sweden and Nineteenth-Century Finland 169
Introduction: A longue durée History of Foreign Law in Sweden-Finland 169
I. Attitudes towards Foreign Law in Swedish Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Jurisprudence 170
II. Foreign Law in the Modernizing Finnish Law of the Nineteenth Century 179
III. Explanations: Why Foreign Law Has Not Been Used 183
Bernard Durand: Reconnaissance et refus d’un droit étranger? Magistrats français et droit musulman dans la colonie du Sénégal 187
I. Reconnaître le droit musulman 190
II. Respecter le droit musulman 193
III. Réduire le droit musulman 197
Carolyn Craycraft Clark / Michael H. Hoeflich: Roman Law as Ratio Decidendi in Early American Law 207
Introduction 207
I. Roman Law as Supplemental Authority 208
II. Roman Law as a Basis for Common Law Jurisprudence 211
Conclusion 215
Matthew C. Mirow: Military Orders as Foreign Law in the Cuban Supreme Court 1899 – 1900 217
I. Military Orders establishing the Cuban Supreme Court and its Appellate Procedure 218
II. Decisions of the Cuban Supreme Court 219
Matthew C. Mirow: Conclusion: Foreign Law and the Birth of Comparative Law 229
I. Foreign Law 230
II. The Birth of Comparative Law 234
Contributors 237