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Legal formalism

Lobban, Michael (2018) Legal formalism. In: Dubber, Markus D. and Tomlins, Christopher, (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Legal History. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 419 - 436. ISBN 9780198794356

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Identification Number: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198794356.013.23


This chapter considers the era of ‘legal formalism’, which is usually taken to refer to the period in American legal thought between the 1860s and the 1920s, when a new generation of post-bellum treatise-writers and legal academics sought to discover the underlying principles of common law cases, and put them into a rational order. This period is sometimes also referred to as the era of ‘classical legal thought’. In contemporary jurisprudence, the term ‘formalism’ refers to a specific approach to adjudication and constitutional interpretation, which has its defenders as well as its critics. However, in the era under study, it was neither a term which jurists used to describe themselves, nor one which their critics used to describe them.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 The Author
Divisions: Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2019 14:33
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2021 23:37

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