This article will propose that comparative law as a discipline should now consolidate itself as an independent subject with its own internal structure. This is not to say that its teachers and professors should abandon, or at least fully abandon, their “gift of freedom”.1 Nor is it to confuse comparative law with other more specific law subjects which may be taught in a comparative way.2 What this article will propose is that comparative law be envisaged as a subject basically operating at two levels (or consisting of two parts). At one level it consists of the now considerable literature on the subject, including of course the work which envisages the subject in terms of legal families. At another level, however, comparative law should be envisaged as being concerned with the theoretical underpinning of the terms “comparative” and “law”. This part, in other words, would deal with these terms as instruments of knowledge. What is it to have knowledge of “law”? And what contribution does “comparison” make to this epistemo-logical question?
* Professor of Law, University of Kent. The author would like to record his thanks to Professor John Bell for his valuable comments on an early draft of this article.