TAS213 European and American Legal Systems: A Comparative Perspective

Teacher responsible:

Dr. Paweł Laidler

Brief course description:

The course provides a fundamental background to the historical, institutional and social issues concerning legal systems of the United States and selected European countries. During the course the students will learn about the role of law in particular countries, theoretical and practical dimensions of legal rules and principles, and the most important cases and norms in selected legal systems. Comparative character of the course provides a chance to present the similarities and differences of the two major legal systems: common law and civil law. At the same time the practical character of the course allows non-theoretical analysis of cases forming contemporary US and European law.

Aims:

The main aims of the course are to:
1) show the position of law in political and social reality of modern countries;
2) determine fundamental issues concerning principles, doctrines and rules of law;
3) analyze US and European sources of law;
4) explain distinctive characters of the common law and civil law systems;
5) compare institutions and norms of European and US legal systems; and
6) address the problems of European law in the 21st century (individual countries or the European Union?).

Content:

1. What is law? Definitions, rules and basic issues.
2. Legal history of Europe and selected European countries.
3. Legal history of the United States and other common law systems.
4. Common law versus civil law: comparison of the two major modern legal systems.
5. Sources of law: hierarchy of norms and precedents in selected countries.
6. European law in the 21st century: one common body or many individual countries?
7. The United States versus Europe: creation of law (the legislature).
8. The United States versus Europe: execution of law (the executive).
9. The United States versus Europe: settlement of disputes (the judiciary).
10. Criminal law in the United States and selected European countries.
11. Civil law in the United States and selected European countries.
12. Administrative law in the United States and selected European countries.
13. Legal process in the United States and Europe.
14. Basic issues of international law and its influence on law of particular countries.
15. People and the law: modern societies as a part of modern legal systems (civil rights issues).

Reading list:

William Burnham, Introduction to the Law and Legal System of the United States; Allan E. Farnsworth, An Introduction to the Legal System of the United States; Ralph H. Folsom, European Union Law in a Nutshell; Trevor C. Hartley, European Union Law in a Global Context: Text, Cases, and Materials; Herbert Jacob, et. al., Courts, Law and Politics in Comparative Perspective; Hein Koetz, Tony Weir, Konrad Zweigert, An Introduction to Comparative Law.