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The Nature of Customary Law
Legal, Historical and Philosophical Perspectives


Amanda Perreau-Saussine, Frederick Schauer, Ross Harrison, James Bernard Murphy, Jean Porter, Brian Tierney, Christoph Kletzer, David Ibbetson, Randall Lesaffer, Alan Cromartie, Michael Lobban, Gerald J. Postema, John Tasioulas
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  • Date Published: July 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521115568

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About the Authors
  • Some legal rules are not laid down by a legislator but grow instead from informal social practices. In contract law, for example, the customs of merchants are used by courts to interpret the provisions of business contracts; in tort law, customs of best practice are used by courts to define professional responsibility. Nowhere are customary rules of law more prominent than in international law. The customs defining the obligations of each State to other States and, to some extent, to its own citizens, are often treated as legally binding. However, unlike natural law and positive law, customary law has received very little scholarly analysis. To remedy this neglect, a distinguished group of philosophers, historians and lawyers has been assembled to assess the nature and significance of customary law. The book offers fresh insights on this neglected and misunderstood form of law.

    • Offers a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to the problems of customary law
    • Offers conceptual bases and a rich intellectual context for further philosophical work on the relationships between morality, custom and customary law
    • Bridges the increasingly irrelevant divide between civil law and common law traditions
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… an important collection of essays, which explores some of the ambiguities in and difficulties with the concept of customary law. … this is an important book exploring a variety of dimensions of a neglected topic.' Edinburgh Law Review

    'It is decidedly the most notable and the most accomplished project in recent years.' Joerg Kammerhofer, Global Law Books

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521115568
    • length: 352 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of contributors
    Table of cases
    The character of customary law: an introduction Amanda Perreau-Saussine and James Bernard Murphy
    Part I. Custom and Morality: Natural Law, Customary Law, And Ius Gentium:
    1. Pitfalls in the interpretation of customary law Frederick Schauer
    2. The moral role of conventions Ross Harrison
    3. Habit and convention at the foundation of custom James Bernard Murphy
    4. Custom, ordinance and natural right in Gratian's 'Decretum' Jean Porter
    5. Vitoria and Suarez on Ius Gentium, natural law, and custom Brian Tierney
    6. Custom and positivity: an examination of the philosophic ground of the Hegel-Savigny controversy Christoph Kletzer
    Part II. Custom and Law: Custom, Common Law, and Customary International Law:
    7. Custom in medieval law David Ibbetson
    8. Siege warfare in the early modern age: a study on the customary laws of war Randall Lesaffer
    9. The idea of common law as custom Alan Cromartie
    10. Three ways of writing a treatise on public international law: textbooks and the nature of customary international law Amanda Perreau-Saussine
    11. Custom, common law reasoning and the law of nations in the nineteenth century Michael Lobban
    12. Custom in international law: a normative practice account Gerald J. Postema
    13. Customary international law and the quest for global justice John Tasioulas
    Index of names.

  • Editors

    Amanda Perreau-Saussine, University of Cambridge
    Amanda Perreau-Saussine is University Lecturer in Law at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Newnham College.

    James B. Murphy, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire
    James B. Murphy is Professor of Government at Dartmouth College.


    Amanda Perreau-Saussine, Frederick Schauer, Ross Harrison, James Bernard Murphy, Jean Porter, Brian Tierney, Christoph Kletzer, David Ibbetson, Randall Lesaffer, Alan Cromartie, Michael Lobban, Gerald J. Postema, John Tasioulas

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