The existence of a body of legal principles and rules that are common to all, or almost all legal systems, is supported by some observations made by a British barrister, C. Wilfred Jenks, in his book , published under the auspices of the London Institute of World Affairs in 1958. In a section of the book titled “Extent of the Influence of the Common and the Civil Law,” Jenks observes that virtually all of the legal systems of the world, including those in Latin America, Islamic countries, African countries, countries within the former Soviet block, India, China, and Japan have been profoundly influenced in the course of their development by either the civil law or the common law. The result is that many principles of law are common to these legal systems. One only has to examine, for example, the law of contracts or torts or the criminal law relating to murder in these legal systems to understand the truth of this assertion. Thus the common law and the civil law, which by themselves share common principles of law, provide the basic framework that many general principles of law can be derived and used to “fill the gap” when there is no general principle of international law available for application in the resolution of a particular case.


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