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The Lighthouse of Law

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The mere use of the terms ‘globalization’ and ‘global law’ is ripe with dangers, as if often causes the academic debate to slip towards the all too simple question of how much global law there really is. In fact, these are container terms which have become fashionable to indicate the historic and paradigmatic shift law is undergoing. Under it are caught three fundamental and interrelated evolutions which are dramatically changing the way we practice, teach and research law: the turn from systemic, disciplinary and methodological monism towards systemic, disciplinary and methodological pluralism. In this perspective and in the light of the challenges these shifts bring to the world of legal practice and academia, global law’ becomes more than the sum of those legal rules and concepts which are truly global. It gains some of the function the ius commune of late-medieval Europe had: that of a lighthouse to which all the ships and boats of local law have to steer to.

Affiliations: 1: Dean, Tilburg Law School; Professor of Legal History Tilburg University and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Email:, URL:


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