The main thrust of this article is to suggest how legal uniformity may result in the European Union despite its Member States' encompassing the two highly distinct legal traditions of the common law and the civil law. My theory is that the defining characteristics of the civil-law legal culture, although in stark and profound contrast with those of the common-law legal system, nevertheless appear prominently and pervasively in the non-legal spheres of common-law nations; and vice versa, such that common-law legal characteristics correspond closely to elements often excluded from civil-law legal cultures, but which are included in the non-legal domains of the civil-law European Union Member States.
Conversely, the defining characteristics of civil-law legal culture not only are largely absent from common-law legal systems, but, as Peter Goodrich has demonstrated, they consciously and repeatedly were rejected by England. Nevertheless, they are prominently and pervasively present in the non-legal spheres of common-law European Union Member States. Consequently, lawyers from all of the Member States have an intimate understanding of the fundamentals of both the common-law and civil law mentalities, although they have learned to apply only one of those mentalities to legal discourse and analysis.
The progression towards legal uniformity is spawning a hybrid, homogenized legal culture from the systems of the civil and the common law that encounter each other in the new Europe. The resulting homogenization in turn fortifies uniformity, as the two distinct legal cultures are altered by their mutual encounters, adapting to the imperatives of coexistence and coalescence, and in turn reinforcing homogenization, as their acquired adaptive characteristics contribute to a further breakdown of distinctive legal attributes by processes of reciprocal influence and blending.
Vivian G. Curran,
Romantic Common Law, Enlightened Civil Law: Legal Uniformity and the Homogenization of the European Union,
Columbia Journal of European Law
Available at: https://scholarship.law.pitt.edu/fac_articles/55