Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637| Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Luke Richard Nottage
Scholars broadly define legal harmonization as making legal rules, principles, or institutions more similar. At one extreme, harmonization can make them identical, but this process is better described as unification. Indeed, much earlier legal writing focused on unification, particularly of private law (governing the relations between or primarily involving private parties). From the 1970s to the present, however, skepticism has grown about unification, especially concerning treaties between nation-states. Since the 1990s, some scholars have become even more critical of harmonization. These shifts reflect a changing socioeconomic backdrop but also the evolving multidisciplinary perspectives that affect legal theory and, especially, comparative law, the area most concerned with both unification and harmonization. Law has long been subject to harmonizing influences. The legacy of Roman law was revived during the Middle Ages, especially in the early universities of Europe. Canon law was a related harmonizing factor. Groups of merchants also developed substantive legal ...