|Over the last years, comparative
law has firmly established itself on the agenda of those who teach, practice
and make law. At a time of rapid developments in technology and economy,
and of increased reliance on international law making mechanisms, the study
of other legal systems has gained so much in relevance because it helps
us to understand our own law and to provide solutions for legal issues
which have become more and more global.
The Oxford University Comparative Law Forum seeks to promote the study and discussion of legal issues from a comparative perspective by making full advantage of the benefits of on-line publication as a fast, cheap and widely accessible means for publishing serious academic writing.
On-line publication can be so much faster than the printed media because there is no need for typesetting and galley proofs, no need to delay publication by squeezing articles into a schedule of quarterly instalments, and no need to ferry paper versions between authors, editors, and reviewers. It is so much cheaper because the process of publication is much less laborious, and because there is no issue of printing, storing and carriage. It is so widely accessible because it is available free of charge to anybody connected to the Internet, thus reaching audiences which a new printed journal could not possibly reach at times where many libraries struggle to continue with existing subscriptions.
However, the novelty of the Oxford University Comparative Law Forum is its interactive nature. It facilitates academic discussion by providing a public discussion platform for each published article. Readers can thus comment and engage into an academic discussion with the author and other readers, regardless of whether they happen to be in the UK or Italy, Oman or Malaysia, Mozambique, Canada or New Zealand. There is, to our knowledge, to date no other journal on comparative law which offers this facility, but we hope that ours will not remain the only one for a long time.
The Oxford University Comparative Law Forum involves six members of the Law Faculty of the University of Oxford as Editors, and one graduate student as Assistant Editor. This firm link with the University of Oxford is also reflected in the perspective of the publication and a strong involvement of authors connected to our Faculty. However, this does not imply that we are primarily addressing an Oxford, English or UK audience as readers and contributors. On the contrary: we welcome contributions from around the globe and hope that the Forum will soon be as international as its topic.
The initial set of seven articles with which we go public focuses on comparative aspects of the law of restitution.* Restitution has just shifted from the backwaters to the mainstream of comparative study and has thus become an area of particularly lively debate. While we hope that this will help to spark off the academic discussion we seek to promote, it should also be made clear that the OUCLF is not limited to private law, but intends to cover the full range of legal subjects, including e.g. constitutional, criminal and administrative law, issues of procedure, conflicts, legal history, and legal theory, as long as this includes a comparison between different legal systems or relates to comparative law methodology.
We welcome feedback. Please mail us with your comments and suggestions.
Oxford, October 2000
* A printed version of these seven as well as another dozen of articles will later be published by Cambridge University Press (and announced on this website) as a book edited by David Johnston (Cambridge) and Reinhard Zimmermann (Regensburg).
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