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Comparative Justice Systems




Admissions requirements



Why compare laws? Why compare Justice Systems?

Comparing differences and similarities of different justice systems contributes to a better understanding of foreign legal systems, broadens our understanding of how legal rules work in context, and helps us reflect critically on our justice system and legal history. Comparative legal research is the study of the relationship between legal systems or between rules of more than one system. Comparative Law is also a method of comparing legal systems.
The importance of comparing justice systems is critical not only for the academic discipline of comparative law as such, but also for specific areas of law, such as criminal law and administrative law. It can play an important role in international harmonization and unification of laws, thereby leading to more international and supranational cooperation.

This course focuses on the study of justice systems from a comparative perspective. It introduces students to different legal and justice systems, with a special focus on criminal law. We will explore concepts of substantive and procedural criminal law, from the elements of crime and forms of participation to different systems of trial. Globalization and its role and influence on justice systems around the world will be explored. The role of supranational and international judicial institutions (European Court of Justice, International Criminal Court) in bringing different legal traditions together will also be examined.

Topics to be covered during the course include:

  • Sources of law in different legal systems

  • Aspects of various criminal justice systems

  • Concepts of substantive and procedural criminal law in a comparative perspective

  • International Criminal Justice and International Crime

  • The European Court of Justice and the EU as an example of regional integration, bringing legal cultures together

Course objectives

After successful completion of this course, the students will be able to

  • Understand the importance of comparing legal and justice systems

  • Identify and explain fundamental concepts and rules in a comparative perspective

  • Distinguish the different justice systems and concepts ;

  • Understand basic concepts of substantive criminal law and how crimes can be classified
    *Understand differences and similarities between legal systems;
    *Compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of different justice systems

Building on the knowledge, the students will be able to:
*Develop writing skills, by employing appropriate and academically accepted referencing;
*Describe facts and explain legal reasoning and courts judgments;
*Write and present orally a well-structured argument, using different sources and literature;


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course consists of interactive lectures, including student presentations and class discussion. Students are encouraged to study and discuss the criminal justice system in their own countries. Students will be required to present an academic paper on a general topic or they may choose to focus on a particular aspect of the criminal justice system of their choice. Teaching materials include primary sources (legal texts and judgments), and secondary literature. Active participation of students is highly valued.


In-class participation (15%) (weeks 1-7)
Oral Presentation/Discussion Leader Assignment (15%) (weeks 1-7)
Take-home Essay or Paper (30%) (Mid-Term)
Final Written Examination (40%) (week 8)


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Course textbook to be purchased by students:
*Francis Pakes, Comparative Criminal Justice (2014) Routledge

Generally recommended readings:
*Johannes Keiler and David Roef (eds) Comparative Concepts of Criminal Law (2016) Intersentia
*Mathias Siems, Comparative Law (2018) Cambridge University Press

Additional reading material will be made available on Blackboard.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact []


Assistant Professor Maria Pichou