Studying Law at Roma Tre

Academic Year 2019-2020

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Spring Semester (March 1 - May 31, 2020)


Comparative Legal Systems (for Roma Tre students enrolled in the Global Legal Studies) 2020

Prof. Vincenzo Zeno-Zencovich

(9 ECTS – SSD IUS/02)
II semester a.a. 2019/20
IMPORTANT NOTICE: This syllabus is for Roma Tre students enrolled in the Global Legal Studies programme. It is longer than the traditional “Introduction to Comparative Legal Systems” course which is part of the “Studying Law at Roma Tre” programme because it brings 9 ECTS instead of 7 ECTS. The syllabus for SL@R3 students is available at the following webpage:

Course description:  
The course cuts across traditional – and by now outdated – divisions between public law and private law, between substantive law and procedural law, and between the so-called civil law/common law divide. The course is focused on the Western Legal Tradition and explains the pitfalls of comparisons with non-Western systems.
The course is divided in nine modules with the following content

I Module: Democratic systems
US presidentialism. - British parliamentarism. - Semi-presidential models. - EU concentration of powers. – Electoral systems.

II Module: Values
Constitutionalism. - Bill of rights, fundamental rights, human rights. - Constitutional adjudication. - Rule of law. - Universalism vs Relativism. - The religious factor

III Module: Government
The structure of Government. -      Administration. - “Independent Agencies”. - Public participation in administrative procedures. - Judicial control over Government

IV Module: The economic dimension
Private autonomy. - Legal entities. – Insolvency. – Regulation. -            State aid

V Module: The “Welfare State”
Taxation. - Social services. - Labour relations and legislation

VI Module: Repression of Crimes
Substantive law vs. Procedural law. - What is a crime? - Who establishes crimes? – Sanctions. - Investigation, prosecution, trial. - Offenders and victims
VII Module: Judges and jurisdiction
Status of judges. - Judicial organization. - Rules of procedure. - Judicial power. -        Legal education. - Judges and/as literature

VIII Module: Models for a globalized world
International conventions. - Uniform laws. - Lex Mercatoria. - International institutions. – Comparative international law.

IX Module: The Brexit Saga
Constitutional referenda – The Government-Parliament tug-of-war – The UK/EU Negotiations – In search of a parliamentary majority – The constitutional and administrative consequences of Brexit – The economic effects of Brexit

Class schedule
Lessons will be held, starting on Monday, March 2nd, every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 4 pm to 6 pm, excepting public holidays and when academic activity is suspended, following the topics listed in the course description (above).

The course aims at introducing students, with a holistic perspective, to what a legal system is, what are the main differences between them, how to compare them. They main aim is that of showing the extreme complexity of contemporary legal systems and the continuous circulation of models between them.

Course Learning Activities
The course consists of lectures on the main aspects of a legal system. Each module will be supported by seminar on specific topics, using legal material (legislation, decisions, statistical data, legal writings).

Assessment tools
The final exam will consist in a written essay in which students will be asked to answer to one hypothetical case (out of a choice of several) which draws on the topics presented during the classes.

Attendance policy
Attendance is strongly recommended, in order to learn to use actively English language skills and to start working with the numerous foreign students who attend the class.

Course textbook:
V. ZENO-ZENCOVICH, Comparative legal systems. A short and illustrated introduction (second editon), Roma TrE-Press, 2019 (volume in open access downloadable from the Roma TrE-Press website:



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