Codification, Transplants and History: Law Reform in Louisiana (1808) and Quebec (1866)
When Louisiana enacted its Digest of the Civil Laws in 1808 and Quebec its Civil Code of Lower Canada in 1866, both jurisdictions were in a period of transition - economic, social and political. In both, the laws had originally been transplanted from European nations whose societies were in many ways different from theirs. This book offers the first systematic and detailed exploration of the two new codes in light of social and legal change.
Cairns examines the rich, complex, and varying legal cultures -- French, Spanish, Civilian and Anglo-American -- on which the two sets of redactors drew in drafting their codes. He places this examination in the context surrounding each codification, and the legal history of both societies. Cairns offers a detailed analysis of family law and employment in the two codes, showing how their respective redactors selected from a defined range of sources and materials to construct their codes. He shows that they acted relatively freely, attempting to inscribe into law rules reflecting what they understood to be the needs of their society from an essentially intuitive and elite perspective. While not propounding a universal theory of legal development, Cairns nonetheless shows the types of factors likely to influence legal change more generally.
John W. Cairns is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, where he now occupies the Chair of Civil Law. He has taught at the Queen's University Belfast (1980-1984) and served as a Visiting Professor at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, and the University of Miami, Florida. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2007. His research has focused on the history of Scots law (particularly legal literature, legal education and the legal profession in the eighteenth century), slavery and the law (particularly in the eighteenth century) and the legal history of Louisiana and Quebec.