(2006) JLP 52: 107-146
This article focuses upon a comparison between the Irish Brehon legal system and that of pre-contact America in respect of the charting of legal evolution and in particular the development of jural typologies. It suggests that these two cultures when compared offer relatively ‘pure’ examples of legal evolution of this type of culture. They illustrate a special hybrid point on the evolutionary spectrum between what Durkheim would call mechanical and organic social solidarity and offer a unique opportunity to test jural typologies for tribal systems.
The areas examined cover the broad range of relationships and interactions within the society. The article considers the relationship between the individual and the group, or what would in modern parlance be described as citizenship. Land ownership and property rights in general are given special consideration as they are indicative not only of the relationship between the group and the individual but also of relations between individuals. Continuing the theme of relationships between individuals, the paper explores the role of women and other categories of persons that are generally considered to be the most vulnerable members of any group. Finally, it considers the concepts of justice that are prevalent in the subject cultures. These factors are accepted indices of legal evolution and are used to test the jural typology proposed by the paper.