Custom as a Source of Law

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Cambridge University Press, Aug 16, 2010 - Law
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A central puzzle in jurisprudence has been the role of custom in law. Custom is simply the practices and usages of distinctive communities. But are such customs legally binding? Can custom be law, even before it is recognized by authoritative legislation or precedent? And, assuming that custom is a source of law, what are its constituent elements? Is proof of a consistent and long-standing practice sufficient, or must there be an extra ingredient - that the usage is pursued out of a sense of legal obligation, or, at least, that the custom is reasonable and efficacious? And, most tantalizing of all, is custom a source of law that we should embrace in modern, sophisticated legal systems, or is the notion of law from below outdated, or even dangerous, today? This volume answers these questions through a rigorous multidisciplinary, historical, and comparative approach, offering a fresh perspective on custom's enduring place in both domestic and international law.
 

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Contents

Custom in Preliterate Societies
3
The Western Legal Tradition of Positivism
16
The Common Law and Custom
27
The Human
42
Family Law
57
Property
68
Contracts
80
Torts
91
Constitutional Law
101
International Commercial Usage
117
Custom Among Nations
135
How and Why Custom Endures
168
Notes
183
Index
257
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About the author (2010)

David J. Bederman is K. H. Gyr Professor in Private International Law at Emory University. Professor Bederman has published extensively on diverse legal topics, including legal history, constitutional law, and international legal theory and practice. In addition to a number of books and dozens of articles and essays, his major publications include Globalization and International Law (2008), The Classical Foundations of the American Constitution (2008), The Spirit of International Law (2002), International Law in Antiquity (2001), and International Law Frameworks (2001).

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