Foreign Law Between "Grand Hazard" and Great Irritation: The Bulgarian Experience After 1878

Jani Kirov


This Article deals with legal transfer during the first decades after the foundation of the Bulgarian state in 1878, starting from the premise that law is based on communicative distinction rather than separation from society. Foreign law may therefore affect not only the native law, but also the form in which the latter is related to society. Thus legal transfer can also stimulate the (co-)evolution of law. The verification of this hypothesis is the aim of a greater project of which the present Article is a part. The Bulgarian state relied a great deal at first on traditional practices of self-government and partly upon the modern Ottoman law, both of which were acknowledged by the Provisional Russian Rule in Bulgaria. Subsequently, Western law was eclectically imported at the expense of local traditions. It seems, however, that the "precious cargo" of modern Western law was relegated at first to the periphery of society, and the courts, for the most part consisting of elected laymen, experienced great difficulties in dealing with it, when it came to their knowledge at all. This is evidenced by customary law, and by some examples related to legal reasoning and legal critique, which may suggest both the persistence of traditional structures and their irritation through the transfer of foreign law.

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