Japanese Law: History, Reception and Adaptation

Conference: Centre for Legal History/Asian Studies

20 June 2014
Lee and Elder Rooms, Old College, 9 am – 5 pm

Attendance is free, but spaces are limited, please email Hiromi Sasamoto-Collins to secure a place.

Japanese law is said to have undergone drastic change through the adaptation of Western law in the second half of the nineteenth century. Many scholars now believe that this ‘westernised’ Japanese law significantly influenced the legal systems of other Asian countries, including Korea, China, and Thailand. This one-day seminar will assess the nature of this transformation of Japanese law that took place amid intense globalisation of the nineteenth century. Among the questions to be considered are the aspects of Japanese law that changed as the result of the reception; the processes of this adaptation and its main consequences, domestic and international.

The seminar will bring together four specialists in Japanese law and legal history to address these questions. Hiroshi Oda, Sir Ernest Satow Professor of Japanese Law at University College London and the author of Japanese Law (now a standard textbook), will provide a general overview of Japanese law, its history and evolution, emphasising its comparative and commercial aspects. Marie Seong-Hak Kim, in her recent book Law and Custom in Korea, claims that the idea of custom as a source of law barely existed in East Asia prior to the nineteenth century and it was the Japanese jurists who absorbed the idea from Western jurisprudence and disseminated it throughout East Asia as colonial agents. Kim will elaborate on this claim. Hiromi Sasamoto-Collins, who has examined the difficult birth of modern constitutionalism in Japan in her book, Power and Dissent in Imperial Japan, will focus on Japan’s first western-style Criminal Code of 1880, and assess exactly how the Japanese codifiers adopted legal principles that appeared to be so radically dissimilar to traditional Japanese legal thought. Matthias Zachmann, the author of China and Japan in the Late Meiji Period and an expert on East Asian relations and international law, will discuss how the Japanese understood and misunderstood the notion of international law in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and what were the consequences of such (mis)conceptions.

In short, the seminar will investigate the question of reception and adaptation in three major areas, international law, and the civil and criminal codes, in the Japanese context. Such perspectives remain essential for the understanding of contemporary Japanese law, as the Japanese legal system remains more or less grounded in the legal reforms of the Meiji period (1868–1912) despite significant later modifications. Such reforms, in turn, then went on to influence the legal systems of other countries in Asia.

Accordingly the theme of Japanese adaptation has large implications for studies of legal and cultural transmission and transmutation. The nineteenth century saw the large-scale dissemination of Western ideas and institutional arrangements across the globe. Legal transplantation was part of this global convergence. And yet extra-legal cultural factors specific to each region or country also intervened in this process. Thus, if some principles and practices survive cultural barriers and take root in a different cultural setting, why and how does this happen? The question may help us to better understand the phenomena of legal convergence and differentiation that continue to this day. The seminar will focus on the Japanese experience, but we hope it will open up debate on the general phenomenon of legal transmission.

Foreigners Steamship

Gaikokujin sen no uchi: jōkisen [Foreigners’ ship: steamship]
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Accounting Techiniques and Accounting Practices in Roman Law, 30 May 2014

The Edinburgh Centre for Legal History and the Edinburgh Roman Law Group will host a workshop on ‘Accounting Techniques and Accounting Practices in Roman Law’, on 30 May 2014, from 9 am to 6 pm in Old College, Edinburgh Law School.

The extent to which economic considerations played a role in the development of Roman law has become an important question within the broader theme of ‘law and society’ research in relation to the Roman world. While exciting work has been done on the extent to which modern economic theories may be used to explain Roman law (eg. Kehoe) and on the extent to which trade was facilitated by Roman money-lending practices (eg. Andreau, Gröschler), the notion of a ‘Roman commercial law’ (eg. Melillo, Lo Cascio, Erdkamp, Cerami, Di Porto et al.) that was supported by certain accounting techniques and practices remains unstudied. The aim of this workshop is to explore these techniques and practices with a view to establishing whether these may enhance modern understanding of ‘Roman commercial law’. This will be done by focusing both on ‘dogmatic’ legal texts contained in Roman legal sources as well as on examples of legal practice preserved in negotia. The focus will be on the ‘long classical period’ – 1st century BCE – end of third century CE.

Participants will include Professor Dr Eva Jakab, Professor Dr Thomas Rufner, Professor Egbert Koops, Dr Serafina Cuomo, Dr Gerard Minaud, and Dr Paul J. du Plessis.

Attendance is free, but spaces are limited. Please email Paul J. du Plessis to secure a place.

Research Fellowship in the Field of European Administrative History – Max Planck Institute for European Legal History

Our colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History have asked this blogger to post the following call for applications:

Research Fellowship in the field of European Administrative History “JEV-Fellowship for European Administrative History” 

At the end of 2012 Prof. Dr. Erk Volkmar Heyen, Professor of Public Law and European Administrative History at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University of Greifswald until his retirement and the editor of the “Jahrbuch für europäische Verwaltungsgeschichte/Yearbook of European Administrative History” (JEV) published from 1989 to 2008, donated a research fellowship in the field of European Administrative History (“The JEV-Fellowship for European Administrative History”). The fellowship falls within the framework of the German University Foundation (Bonn, Germany).

The scholarship is intended to benefit the next generation of scientific researchers, particularly doctoral and post-doctoral students, and specifically for the final phase of their research project for a duration of no longer than 12 months. The scholarship is based on the usual rates for doctoral fellowships of the German Research Foundation (DFG). Should a fellowship be awarded for research abroad, the local conditions will be the determining factor. Marital status will not be deemed a consideration, and neither will travel- nor other costs be reimbursed. The Board of the German University Foundation decides on and awards the fellowship based on a proposal by a jury. This jury is based at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History (MPI) in Frankfurt, where the founder worked in the 1980s. Currently the permanent members of the jury are: the Managing Director of the Max Planck Institute, Prof. Dr. Thomas Duve, Prof. Dr. Stefan Brakensiek, Professor of Early Modern History at the Institute for History of the University of Duisburg-Essen, and Priv.-Doz. Dr. Peter Collin, Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute. The German University Foundation provides for the payment of the fellowships and informs the recipients about the terms and conditions and the legal requirements to be complied with by the recipients in their personal capacities. Early stage researchers from Germany and abroad are invited to apply. In accordance with the thematic and methodological spectrum covered by the JEV, the scholarship is open to all historical disciplines, provided the research project addresses an aspect of European administrative history from the period of the sixteenth to the twentieth century. The importance of the research topic should impact beyond the national level. Comparative research questions are particularly welcome.

First time applications for a scholarship commencing in January 2014 can be submitted until 30 September 2013; this deadline also applies to the succeeding years unless otherwise

specified. Applications in English or German should be sent in electronic form to: Priv.-Doz. Dr. Peter Collin, collin@rg.mpg.de. The application, which must also include an indication of the duration for which the fellowship should run, is to be accompanied by the following documents: a curriculum vitae in tabular form with detailed information on the nature and the chronology of university studies together with the respective examination results achieved (copies of results to be enclosed) and, where applicable, a list of scientific publications written or hitherto contributed to; a detailed description of the research project including a detailed outline of the contents of the intended publication, a detailed report on the current development of the project and the status of publication, including the reasons for any (possible) delay in its completion; extensive excerpts from the current document; information on the current financing of the research project as well as on past or pending applications for funding of the project; a precise timetable for the completion of the writing of the publication. Furthermore care is to be taken that at least one expert opinion from a university lecturer on both the individual researcher and the research project as such be submitted directly to the jury. The MPI provides fellowship recipients with work opportunities in its library. Fellows are given the opportunity to present their research projects to the public at the Institute and to discuss the projects with the latter. With the expiration of the fellowship the recipient is to submit a report on the status of the publication/book. The MPI provides for the publication of the funded book in one of its publication series, provided the Institute’s required quality standards are met. The book is to make reference to the support provided by the “JEV-Fellowship for European Administrative History” in the imprint or in the preface. Donations to financially support and, if possible, extend the level of support of the fellowship are most welcome. These can be paid into the following account of the German University Foundation: Bank für Sozialwirtschaft, account number: 1140200 (BLZ: 37020500; BIC: BFSWDE33XXX; IBAN: DE47370205000001140200), Password: “Spende Erk-Volkmar-Heyen-Stiftungsfonds”. The German University Foundation will issue the required receipt confirming the donation, if the postal address is provided. Should a permanent increase of fund assets be preferred, the password to be used is „Zustiftung Erk-Volkmar-Heyen-Stiftungsfonds“.

Congratulations to Yale Law Library Rare Books Blog

This blog has often referred to and cited the Yale Law Library Rare Books Blog. On 5 April, 2013, the Yale blog celebrated its 5th birthday. On a blog entry of that date, Mike Widener mentioned what had been the most popular Blog Entry: "Holy Diploma! Is Batman a Yale Law School Alumnus?" See


In Edinburgh, alas, we can claim no superheroes as alumni or alumnae. We are a slightly older law school than Yale, however, with a first chair (Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations) founded in 1707, and the first law classes given in the University being those in Roman Law delivered in October 1710, by James Craig, the newly appointed Professor of Civil Law. (The Regius Professor of Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations did not offer a class until 1711.)

This is a younger Blog than the Yale Law Library Rare Books Blog, but not by as much as your Blogger had initially thought. I see our first entry came on 9 January 2009 – incidentally the anniversary of Connecticut becoming a state in 1788 – so we are in our 5th year, and can celebrate our 5th birthday on 9 January, 2014. It does not seem so long, though Virgil's "sed fugit interea fugit irreparabile tempus, singula dum capti circumvectamur amore" is no doubt as appropriate for rare book librarians as legal historians.

This said, it remains to congratulate the Yale Rare Law Books Blog on entering its sixth year. It also remains to recommend it as warmly as possible as one of the most interesting and enjoyable blogs in the legal historical blogosphere. It can be found at this address:


John A. Rockwell and the Origins of US-Mexico Litigation: Lecture 7 Jan. 2013

This Blog has a number of times mentioned Judah P. Benjamin, the great Lousiana lawyer who later became an English barrister. His training and experience made him familiar with Spanish law, which was why he was involved with John A. Rockwell in the famous New Almaden, California, quicksilver mine case in the Federal Courts of the USA. Rockwell himself is a fascinating figure who established a cross-border litigation practice specializing in claims involving Mexico. It is therefore good to see that the Law Library of Louisiana is sponsoring a lecture entitled "John A. Rockwell and the Origins of U.S.-Mexico litigation" on 7 January 2013. The notice is appended below.


John A. Rockwell and the Origins of U.S.-Mexico Litigation

A Law Library of Louisiana Free CLE

Sponsored by the Law Library of Louisiana

Monday, January 7, 2013

6 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Louisiana Supreme Court, 400 Royal Street, 4th Floor Courtroom

One hour CLE credit

On Monday, January 7th, 2013, the Law Library of Louisiana will sponsor a free CLE entitled "John A. Rockwell and the origins of U.S.-Mexico Litigation." An attorney and Whig congressman from Connecticut, John A. Rockwell (1803-1861) established an innovative cross-border law practice specializing in claims involving Mexico. Bringing lawsuits over harm to foreign nationals during the Mexican political unrest of the 1840s and 1850s,Rockwell became expert in arguing Hispanic legal doctrine before international tribunals, and was co-counsel with Louisiana lawyer Judah P. Benjamin in the New Almaden, California, quicksilver mine case in the U.S. federal courts. Based on his research for this litigation, Rockwell produced the first comprehensive English-language treatise on Spanish and Mexican mining and real estate law, which became widely used in the southwestern territories annexed afterthe Mexican War and is still cited in contemporary property disputes. While he shared the indecisiveness of many Whigs over the sectional divisions ultimately leading to the Civil War, Rockwell’s steps to create a language of international legal communication set a precedent for the globalized practice of today.


Peter L. Reich, J.D., Ph.D., is Professor of Law and Sumner Scholar at Whittier Law School, where he is Director of Whittier’s Environmental Law Concentration and Mexico City Program. His most recent publication is the scholarly introduction to John A. Rockwell’s A Compilation of Spanish and Mexican Law in Relation to Mines and Titles to Real Estate (1851), reissued by Lawbook Exchange.

For more information or to reserve a seat, please contact Georgia Chadwick via email (gchadwick[at]lasc.org) or phone (504-310-2402).

Ample parking is available at the Jax Brewery Lot.

Centre for Mediaeval and Early Modern Law and Literature at the University of St Andrews

This Blog is delighted to note the inauguration of the Centre for Mediaeval and Early Modern Law and Literature at the University of St Andrews on Wednesday 3 October, 2012. Marking the event, David Ibbetson, Regius Professor of Civil Law at the University of Cambridge, will give a lecture entitled 'Early Modern Lawyers and Literary Texts', from 2.15-3.15pm. This will be followed by tea, a panel discussion and a drinks reception.

The Centre has an excellent and informative website that is worth exploring: http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/cmemll/news.htm

Letters from Inveraray

The AGM and Annual Adress of the Stair Society will take place this year in the Mackenzie Building of the Faculty of Advocates on 17 November 2012. After the AGM, the Annual Address, which is open to the public, will be given by Professor Norma Dawson of the Queen’s University, Belfast, current President of the Irish Legal History Society. Her subject will be "Letters from Inveraray: the correspondence between the 8th Duke of Argyll and the 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava (with particular reference to the Irish Land Question)".

Professor Dawson is a distinguished property lawyer as well as a legal historian and an expert on trade mark law (both modern and historical). Your blogger has had the great good fortune to have experienced her as an excellent and supportive colleague when he started his tecahing career at Queen's Belfast, a fine and distinguished institution

Call for Papers – Death, law and property in Medieval Europe

Call for Papers

Conference "Preparing for Death in Medieval and Early Medieval Europe"
Helsinki, 14-15 March 2013

In medieval and early modern Europe society, the Grim Reaper, death, was a recurrent guest. Leaving emotional aspects aside, the omnipresence of death required people to prepare for the possibility of dying. The religious worldview revolved around thought of salvation based on individual merit – sins and good deeds. Souls were destined either to heaven or hell, depending on how the individual had behaved during life.

When a person feared that death was close, he or she turned his thoughts to arranging his soul for afterlife. Confession of one’s sins, contrition and making amends were part of the penitential process.

In addition to the confession of sins, praying for the dying and extreme unction belonged to the religious deathbed rituals in medieval and early modern Europe. Sudden death was perceived as a threat because the soul could not be prepared for afterlife. Priests had their own handbooks advising them how to approach a person on his sickbed and how to console him and his family. In the Middle Ages, there developed a whole genre of literature, the ars moriendi, instructing people about the proper way of dying.

Apart from the soul, property issues were also a major concern for the dying. How were the wealth and family resources to be distributed after death? Was something to be invested in good deeds: donations ad pios usus, alms, masses, etc.? Law and custom provided a plethora of ways for transferring property to the surviving relatives and the next generation (e.g., statutory inheritance, wills and testaments, marriage contracts, primogeniture, entails and fideicommissa). The strategies of heirship varied in time and place. Preparing for death could also mean worrying about the memory and postmortem reputation of the dying. This could be done for example by preparing or commissioning works of art, effigies, memorials or literary works.

The conference "Preparing for Death in Medieval and Early Medieval Europe" will investigate and explore the various ways and strategies medieval and early modern people used in attempting to prepare themselves and others – body, soul, property and memory – for the inevitable and omnipresent death. Although the timeframe is historical in order to achieve certain consistency, the conference aims at interdisciplinarity. Papers dealing with religious, legal, visual, cultural, political, and philosophical perspectives on preparing for death are welcome.

Those interested in giving a twenty-minute presentation at the conference are requested to submit a paper proposal (about 200 words) by 30 October 2012 to Mia Korpiola (mia.korpiola[at]helsinki.fi), Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki.

Keynote Speakers

Professor Richard H. Helmholz (Chicago Law School) gives a plenary lecture:

“Property Postmortem: Legal Instruments and Inheritance Strategies in Medieval and Early Modern Europe” (preliminary title). Docent Otfried Czaika (Kungliga Biblioteket, Stockholm) gives a plenary lecture: “Dying

Unprepared: Sudden Death in Early Modern Swedish Funeral Sermons.”


Mia Korpiola

Doctor of Laws, Adjunct Professor/Reader (Docent) Legal History Research Fellow Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies P.O. Box 4 (Fabianinkatu 24)

00014 University of Helsinki


e-mail: mia.korpiola@helsinki.fi

phone:  + 358 9 191 22320

fax:    + 358 9 191 24509


SCOTTISH LEGAL HISTORY GROUP – 32nd Annual Conference, Saturday 6 October 2012

The 32nd Annual Conference and AGM of the Scottish Legal History Group will be held in the Reading Room of the Advocates’ Library, Parliament House, Edinburgh, on Saturday 6th October 2012. All welcome.


10.30  Coffee

11.00  First Session

Mr W.W. Scott
‘William de Crannystoun, notary public, c. 1395-1425, and some contemporaries’.

 Dr John D. Ford, University of Cambridge
 'William Welwod's Treatises on Maritime Law'.


12.30  Sherry. Break for Lunch.

2.15  Second Session

Annual General Meeting … to be followed at 2.30 approximately by:

  Ms Harriet Cornell
  'Social Control and the Courts of Haddingtonshire: 1610-1640'.

3.30  Third Session

 Dr  Dan Carr, University of Edinburgh
 ‘Lord Kames in America’.

 Dr Andrew Mackillop, University of Aberdeen
 'Scots Law & Scottish Identities in the Eastern British Empire, c.1750-1815'.

5.00  Close
Thirty-Second Annual Conference – Saturday 6th October 2012
The 32nd Annual Conference and AGM of the Scottish Legal History Group will be held in the Reading Room of the Advocates’ Library, Parliament House, Edinburgh, on Saturday 6th October 2012. All welcome.
All those wishing to attend are requested to send the attached form together with the Conference fee of £10.00 to the Secretary, Dr John Finlay, at the address indicated.

Conference Registration
Most participants receive this intimation by email. If you have received it by post but would prefer or are willing to receive it by email in future, please provide your email address below.

When replying please provide your current email and postal addresses:
– If you are subscribing for the first time
– If these have changed in the past year
– If there has been a long interval since your last subscription

Thirty-second Annual Conference – Saturday 6th October 2012

To:  Dr John Finlay, School of Law, The Stair Building, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ.

Please enroll me for the above Conference. I enclose my Conference Fee of £10.00 (cheques payable to ‘The Scottish Legal History Group’).


Email address…………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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