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Nomophilacy and Beyond

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Comparative Reflections on Judicial Precedents by Supreme Jurisdictions in Italy and Japan

image of European Journal of Comparative Law and Governance

The issue of how civil law jurisdictions rely on precedents in the absence of a firm stare decisis rule is one of the most debated topics in comparative law. While most studies focus on the convergence of legal systems and/or rely on socio-legal reflections, this paper employs an institutional approach based on the comparison of the supreme courts of Italy and Japan, two civil law countries that share many similarities in history, perceptions of the civil litigation system, and eventual drift towards a quasi-precedential model. The study tries to demonstrate that even when there are no formally binding precedents, technical, procedural rules make supreme courts’ decisions fundamental for the formation of norms. The analysis highlights the different weight each factor (i.e. structure and functioning of the supreme courts, reforms in civil procedure, access to justice) and actor (i.e. judges, scholars) has in the formation and application of precedents in Italy and Japan.

Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor of Law, Graduate School of Law, Nagoya University, Furo-cho, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan,


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