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Speaker Series: Kevin E. Davis, Law, New York University School of Law

  • When: October 28, 2020, 12 pm
  • Where: Zoom: To register, contact Sophie Kofman at

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What Should Comparative Law Compare? Insights from the Caribbean

Comparative analyses of laws and legal institutions typically define the sets of laws to be compared by reference to the nationalities of their sources. For example, laws emanating from English sources might be compared to laws from French sources. This source-based approach is not necessarily appropriate when societies are significantly affected by cross-border flows of ideas, information, goods, services, people and legal authority. In these cases there are both practical and intellectual reasons to define the set of laws to be analyzed to include all of the laws, national and extra-national, which affect a particular society. In other words, the relevant set of laws should be defined by their subjects rather than their sources. A case study from Jamaica illustrates this point. The legal determinants of Jamaica’s relatively high homicide rate include many foreign laws and associated enforcement practices, most notably, US laws and practices concerning trafficking in firearms and narcotics, deportation, extradition and cross-border fraud. Consequently, it will be difficult to understand the relationship between law and society in Jamaica without taking into account all of the laws that affect Jamaicans, as opposed to just the laws adopted by Jamaican legal institutions.

Photo and bio courtesy of New York University School of Law

Kevin Davis joined the NYU School of Law as Professor of Law in 2004. He was formerly a tenured member of the University of Toronto's Faculty of Law. He teaches courses on Contracts, Commercial Law, Law and Development, and Regulation of Foreign Corrupt Practices. His current research is focused on anti-corruption law, contract law and the general relationship between law and economic development.

Professor Davis received his B.A. in Economics from McGill University in 1990. After graduating with an LL.B. from the University of Toronto in 1993, he served as Law Clerk to Justice John Sopinka of the Supreme Court of Canada and later as an associate in the Toronto office of Torys, a Canadian law firm. After receiving an LL.M. from Columbia University in 1996, he was appointed an assistant professor at the University of Toronto and was promoted to associate professor in 2001. He has also held visiting teaching or research appointments at the University of Southern California; Clare Hall, Cambridge University; Fundação Getúlio Vargas, São Paulo; the University of Toronto; and the University of the West Indies, Barbados.

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