Tuesday 16 March 2010

Hungarian Vigour in the Common Law

I have always been convinced that my fellow-countrymen can make it to the top in whatever field they want. But I must admit that the common law tradition was among the last areas to be conquered by Hungarians I would have thought of.

corpus iuris civilis Hungarian lawyers have a strong aversion to the case law approach. Law students usually have serious difficulties with learning the subjects in which it plays some role, namely international and European law. These difficulties are caused by the fact that mastering a complete system of rules, which is the ultimate goal of Hungarian legal education, is not enough here. Law faculties in Hungary concentrate on pouring the full content of as many statutes and regulations into the students’ head as they can. These statutes and regulations are usually based on an elaborate conceptual structure, which makes them easy to visualize: It is like a refined architecture built out of basic notions, distinctions, general rules and exceptions. University text books see their task in drawing the distinctions even more precisely, making the system look even clearer and repairing its possible ruptures. Of course written laws and text books intend to have something in common with the reality they pertain to, but even if they succeed, law students are not aware of how reality is reflected by this legal dogmatics. As a result, they finish university with a neat picture in their head of Hungary’s legal system but without basic skills of applying this knoknowledge to real cases.