Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dorsett on Legal Transplants in New Zealand

Shaunnagh Dorsett, University of Technology Sydney Law, has posted How Do Things Get Started? Legal Transplants and Domestication: An Example from Colonial New Zealand, which appears in New Zealand Journal of Public and International Law 14 (2014): 103.  Here is the abstract:    
"Unearthing" is a problematic task for historians. To some extent it assumes continuity between the past and the present, and that matters identified by whatever means as ‘traditions’ in the present were understood that way in the past. It is a backward looking task, rather than an exploration of understandings at a moment in time. Rather than ‘unearthing’, this article seeks to start at the beginning and to think about how things get going in colonies. It pays attention to foundations and to questions of institutional design. This article draws on literature on legal transplants, and examines one example of a legal transplant in New Zealand: the Resident Magistrates’ Court, focusing in particular on its civil jurisdiction. If not the "number eight wire" approach, it is a recognition of pragmatism - the ways in which legal forms, both discursive and institutional, circulated Empire and are made and remade in new times and places in response to local circumstance.