Legal reasoning and legal integration

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According to legrand, harmonization of european private law by means of a european civil code would not work, because of the different legal cultures (mentalités) within which such a code would have to operate. In the civil law tradition, legal reasoning on the basis of such a code would be deductive in the sense of the application of rules that are posited prior to the cases to which they should be applied. In the common law tradition, the starting point of legal reasoning is in the cases themselves. As a consequence, common law reasoning would abstract less from the peculiarities of individual cases.the main point of this paper is that legrand's picture of civil law reasoning is based on the subsumption model of rule application, which does not allow adaptation of the law to the needs of concrete cases other than through the limited possibilities of interpretation. It is argued that this picture is wrong. As an alternative, the reason-based model of rule application is proposed, which allows legal decision makers much more leeway to tailor the law to the needs of concrete cases. In a comparison with case-based reasoning it is argued that rule-based reasoning, according to the reason-based model, gives the decision maker the same leeway.the final conclusion is that possible differences in legal culture between the civil law and the common law tradition are not rooted in the distinction between rule-based reasoning and case-based reasoning, and are therefore merely contingent. There is no reason why the introduction of a european civil code could not overcome the differences between the two traditions. Whether this would be desirable is a different question.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-97
Number of pages21
JournalMaastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003

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