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5.0 out of 5 stars

TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 November 2012


An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers

For practitioners as well as students, not to mention journalists, policy makers and researchers in comparative law, this one-volume encyclopedia is a gift.

Writing in `The Criminal Lawyer', Sally Ramage calls it `a treasure trove of honed knowledge of the laws of many countries', adding that `there is not another as comprehensive in its coverage as Elgar's'.

Comparative law (in which laws and legal systems are compared across a range of countries globally) has been around for some considerable time, but nonetheless is very much a twenty-first century discipline, having increased in importance in recent years in response to the growing number of businesses and individuals operating internationally.

This new edition has updated to include re-written entries and entirely new ones. It's a compilation of seventy-six learned articles listed alphabetically, each researched and written by acknowledged experts from top universities worldwide.

To cite just one example, H. Patrick Glenn's article offers further insights into the nature and aims of comparative law. Like most or all the other chapters, his is logically structured to include an introduction supported by a wealth of further detail, and an extensive bibliography. Certainly it is the extensive footnoting plus the bibliographies at the end of each chapter which make this encyclopedia especially useful to researchers.

There are four types of entries. First, there are articles on specific areas of the law and specific topics (e.g. criminal law, administrative law, family law -- and other areas such as insurance law, legal reasoning, legal culture, etc).

Second: there are entries dealing with such methodological questions as, for example, the idea of a European Civil Code.

Third: certain essays concentrate on common law in general.

Fourth: there are the reports on the legal systems of specific countries, from Australia and China to South Africa, Spain, Sweden Switzerland and Turkey.

The encyclopedia does not claim to be completely comprehensive or all-encompassing. The subject is just too vast. It is rather, as the editor Jan Smits puts it, `a first entry into a field of law, a specific topic or a legal system'. As a result, the entries and the scholarship and insights contained therein have been carefully selected for their current utility and significance.

Again, we would stress the value of this 1,000 page encyclopedia for researchers into this rapidly changing and increasingly significant area of law. The bibliographies are vast and the book is rendered all the easier to navigate by virtue of its detailed thirty-five page index.

It's not difficult to predict that this book will come to be considered (if it isn't already) as an essential acquisition for all law and business libraries. The publication date is cited as at December 2011.
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