In modern legal systems, common law and civil law alike, and their spread over many territories in several continents, are inconceivable without the input of Nutshells often written in far-off times and in far-away places. I also want to show that the history of Nutshells vividly illumines themes that I have pressed for decades.3 First, they demonstrate the easy transmissibility of legal rules, institutions, concepts and structures from one society to other, very different, ones. Second, they indicate the frequent longevity of such rules, institutions, concepts and structures. Third, their very success is attributable to the lack of interest by governments in law-making, or in inserting particular messages into their legislation.4 Fourth, likewise, the importance of private Nutshells is evidence of the state's lack of concern for communicating law to its subjects. Fifth, they show that in large measure law does not emerge in any real sense from a society in which it operates. Indeed, although I use the term "Nutshell," I am thinking of something even more restricted in scope. In what follows I will use that term to designate books written as teaching manuals (whether in a law school or for home study) for beginning law students or to instruct non-lawyers in the elements of the law: books, at that, with a wide scope, covering at least the whole of private law. Such Nut-shells are less detailed than many in West's celebrated Nutshell Series. Nutshells are also valuable student aids for examination preparation, but that aspect will not be stressed here.2 Nutshells even come to be statute law (with, of course, wider implications) and, as such, are prominent in modern law.
The Importance of 'Nutshells'
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/fac_artchop/668