Review of: On Common Laws

EJM Descheemaeker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


In this highly stimulating short book, Professor Glenn of McGill University revisits the old notion of a common law, including in his study not only the English common law, cradle of the namesake tradition, and the pan-European ius commune, but also the various national or transnational common laws which, until the age of codification, existed (first in Europe and then in the world) in a dialogical relationship with the various local laws that they encountered. Professor Glenn’s book attempts to re-interpret their historical relationship in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, whereby at every level the general law would defer to the particular. By so doing, the author puts forward an explanatory model of ten centuries of legal developments in terms of layered, ‘relational’ common laws which cohabited harmoniously. This, it is argued by the reviewer, should be regarded as an ideal-type with which much, but clearly not all, of the historical data fits; and whose eirenic nature is probably inseparable from the Québecois context in which the book was written.
Translated title of the contribution[review of]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125 - 135
Number of pages11
JournalOxford University Commonwealth Law Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

Author of Publication Reviewed: Patrick Glenn


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