Gifts: A Study in Comparative Law

Research output: Book/ReportBook

34 Scopus citations


This book studies the law governing the giving and revocation of gifts. Gift-giving is everywhere governed by social and customary norms before it encounters the law. Moreover, the giving of gifts takes place largely outside of the marketplace. As a result of these two characteristics, the law of gifts provides a lens through which to examine how different legal systems confront social practice. The law of gifts is well-developed both in the civil and the common laws. This book studies how the different civil and common law jurisdictions confront common issues. The legal systems discussed include for the common law those of England, the United States, and India, and, in the civil law, the private law systems of Belgium and France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. This book also provides a critique of a principal method of comparative law, which is a form of functionalism based on what is called the praesumptio similitudinis, namely the axiom that once legal doctrine is stripped away, developed legal systems tend to reach similar practical results. As this study makes clear, legal systems actually differ, not only in their approach and conceptual structure, but just as much in the results. More importantly, this study rejects functionalism in favor of an interpretist method derived from cultural anthropology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages730
ISBN (Electronic)9780199867776
ISBN (Print)9780195343366
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)


  • Civil laws
  • Common laws
  • Functionalism
  • Law of gifts
  • Praesumptio similtudinis
  • Private law systems
  • Social practice


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