Mark Van Hoecke, Professor of Comparative Law, gave an insightful inaugural lecture on “Do judges reason differently on both sides of the Channel?”, at the School of Law, Queen Mary University of London, on 3rd September 2018. To a keen audience of academics and practitioners, Professor Van Hoecke compared Common Law reasoning with that of French and German legal reasoning to address the following issue:
In legal theory writings it looks as if legal reasoning would be a feature common to all mankind, independently of local legal systems and cultures. Paradoxically, in comparative law literature cultural differences among legal cultures are often emphasised when talking about legal reasoning, such as a (purely) deductive reasoning on the Continent, as opposed to (purely) inductive reasoning in the Common Law. However, comparatists vary between (extreme) optimists, who don’t see relevant cultural differences as to legal reasoning, most notably when trying to harmonise law in Europe (or elsewhere), and (extreme) pessimists for whom (legal) reasoning would be completely different across cultures. Which approach is correct? More concretely: to what extent do judges, or more generally lawyers, reason differently in Britain and in continental Europe?
Professor Van Hoecke’s lecture drew on the focus of his current research, the theory and methodology of comparative law and legal research. He has published widely on this area, including: ‘Do “Legal Systems” Exist? The Concept of Law and Comparative Law’ (chapter 3 in S.P.Donlan & L.Heckendorn Urscheler, eds., Concepts of Law, Farnham: Ashgate, 2014, 43-57); ‘Legal Culture and Legal Transplants’ (chapter 16 in R.Nobles & D.Schiff, eds., Law, Society and Community, Farnham: Ashgate, 2014, 273-291); ‘Methodology of Comparative Law’, Law and Method, December 2015.
Professor Van Hoecke has kindly shared his full paper (COMPARATIVE LEGAL REASONING ) and his lecture slides (Do Judges Reason Differently on Both Sides of the Channel?).
Posted by Professor Claudina Richards (University of East Anglia)