oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - The role of American authorities in the early development of South African law

Volume 18, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



The decades immediately preceding the Union of the South African colonies in 1910 constituted a vital period in the history of South Africa's legal system. During this time, a number of legal elements began to coalesce, and a new "South African" identity began to emerge. In analysing this development, most commentators have focussed on the way in which the Roman-Dutch law, the official legal system, was influenced by English law and by local demands. But, examination of the legal records of the three decades before Union reveals that American reports and text writers also played a significant role. The focus of this article is on the reasons for the American influence and the manner in which it was exercised.

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