Comparative Legal History

Preliminary level, half course, whole year

Course Co-ordinator/s: Professor Helen Scott

Entrance requirements:
Undergraduate LLB students: concurrent registration with RDL1003W and RDL1008H
Graduate LLB students: concurrent registration with RDL1003W, RDL1008H, PBL2000W, PBL2001H, RDL2002H, RDL2003H

Course outline: The course serves as an introduction to South African private law, with particular emphasis on the law of property and obligations. Its main aims are, first, to provide both a map of the law and an understanding of the operation of the system of private law rules; and, second, to provide students with an understanding of the development of legal rules in their historical and comparative contexts. During the first semester the focus is on the content and function of important institutions such as ownership, possession, contract, unjustified enrichment and delict, and on the relationship between these institutions. The tutorials are real-life problem-solving exercises which foster the ability to apply legal rules in an analytical manner. During the second semester we examine the history of a number of important legal rules, in each case beginning with their roots in Roman law and tracing their development into the 20th century, but investigating also the influence of other legal systems, particularly that of English law. This half of the course emphasises the contingency of legal rules and the factors which have refashioned the law in every age. It aims to equip students to engage critically with legal texts drawn from a wide range of contexts.