Journal of Civil Law Studies


enforcement of rights, contempt of court, comparativelaw methodology, comparative civil procedure, common law, civillaw


The aim of this article is to briefly tackle, from a comparative viewpoint, an academically quite overlooked topic: techniques of enforcement of lawful judgments. Despite a gradual convergence in many fields of law, common and civil law jurisdictions still maintain a striking diversity in the ways in which they react to non-compliance with court judgments. Whilst in common law tradition, failure to comply with a judicial order is considered civil contempt of court, in civil law countries this legal institution is simply unknown. Furthermore, it is only in civil law systems that failure to comply with a court judgment cannot be punished by imprisonment. My key question is: what are, if any, the “cultural” reasons that could explain this divergence of approach? First, discussing Mauro Cappelletti’s comparative methodology, I explore whether, and to what extent, civil contempt of court and its civilian counterparts are comparable. Then, focusing my attention on the common law model, I argue that many contemporary features of civil contempt can only be fully understood by looking at the particular image and unique social perception of the judge within the common law legal tradition.

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