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On April 2nd, 2010, Pericles was pleased to present Professor Christopher Osakwe speaking on the Practical Uses of International & Comparative Law

Mr. Osakwe is an American attorney who also possesses a candidate’s degree in law from Moscow State University.  Currently, he teaches the Contracts course here at Pericles and during his annual second-semester pilgrimage to Moscow,  he teaches an advanced course on "Comparative Civil Law" concurrently  at MGIMO, MGUA and Higher School of Economics.  When not in Russia, he is a retired professor of comparative law at Tulane University Law School in New Orleans, and he can lay claim to being the author of the most popular American textbook on comparative law.  Over the years, he has written and published many articles and commentaries on this field, and he has amassed an invaluable amount of relevant knowledge.  Below are some of the main points he made in his lecture.

Professor Osakwe's 6 Main Talking Points: Practical uses of a comparative law perspective include contract drafting, as there are very different styles in common civil law countries; legislative drafting, where comparative method can help devise totally new legal regimes; litigating civil law suits, where comparative knowldge gives you a wealth of ideas to fall back on; learning techniques to improve your advocacy skills in a criminal jury trial, drafting corporate charters with a clear understanding of developed in multinational practice, and conducting research, where comparative method can greatly help academics in understanding scientific concepts and advising governments.

"Russian corporate law has made some big strides, and it's still changing and incorporating Western ideas. If you are involved in drafting corporate documents for companies with Western shareholders you know that shareholders agreements, while new here, are one of their favorite instruments."

"It will also come in handy in your practice as a lawyer to look at American techniques of piercing the coproate veil because we've had it a long time and it has more or less been perfected. In America it is almost an art at this point, while in Russia it's still something new."

"Anglo-American common law views contract not only as a social phenomenon, but also, and more importantly, as an economic engine. To the common law mind, the five functions of contract are to: create wealth, maximize wealth, efficiently manage wealth, insure the parties against the economic risks of the marketplace and enforce promises."

"In the civil law system, the parties traditionally draft a  'non-integrated contract'  that is intended to function against the backdrop of the Civil Code. By contrast, in the common law system, the parties specifically draft a contract that is intended to be the 'integrated law of the parties'. As such, a common law contract strives to be gapless and to preempt any resort to the Civil Code in its interpretation or application."

"Comparative law encourages legal transplantation: borrowing from one system to enhance another. But in this respect we must take advice from physicians. Before they transplant an organ, they check for blood type, for compatibility. Before you transplant a law you must also analyze for compatibility. An example is the jury system. To transpose a jury from an ancient Anglo-Saxon system to a modern Russian one might have been a big mistake. But now that we have it, what can we learn from it? Comparative criminal procedure can teach you how to perfect the art of defending your client in a jury trial."