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Legal history and philosophy of Burma (texts and commentary)

Individual Documents

Title: Remembering the work of Professor Andrew Huxley
Date of publication: 08 December 2014
Description/subject: "It is with sadness I heard this week of the passing of Professor Andrew Huxley of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London...Professor Huxley spent part of his academic career expanding our understanding of Burmese Buddhist law and locating it in the context of the literature on Buddhist law in Southeast Asia. For readers looking for a concise overview of the literature on Burmese Buddhist law published from the 1980s to 2001, his review offers an excellent introduction. Professor Huxley highlighted the way in which the dhammathats are evidence of the important role that law played under the kings, and that it was not the British who first introduced the rule of law in Burma. He argued that Burmese Buddhist law is relevant and needs to be understood by historians, Pali scholars and lawyers, because it remains the source of personal law for most Buddhists in Myanmar. His work has advocated for the view that the legal system that existed in Burma prior to colonialism was well-developed..."
Author/creator: Melissa Crouch
Language: English
Source/publisher: "New Mandala"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 14 December 2014

Title: Myanmar, Law Reform and Asian Legal Studies (introductory chapter to "Law, Society and Transition in Myanmar")
Date of publication: October 2014
Description/subject: " ["Law, Society and Transition in Myanmar", edited by Melissa Crouch and Tim Lindsey] addresses the dynamics of the legal system of Myanmar/Burma in the context of the dramatic but incomplete transition to democracy that formally began in 2011. It includes contributions from leading scholars in the field on a range of key legal issues now facing Myanmar, such as judicial independence, constitutional law, human rights and institutional reform. It features chapters on the legal history of Myanmar; electoral reform; the role of the judiciary; economic reforms; and the state of company law. It also includes chapters that draw on the experiences of other countries to contextualise Myanmar's transition to democracy in a comparative setting, including Myanmar's participation in regional bodies such as ASEAN. This topical book comes at a critical juncture in Myanmar's legal development and will be an invaluable resource for students and teachers seeking greater understanding of the legal system of Myanmar. It will also be vital reading for a wide range of government, business and civil society organisations seeking to re-engage with Myanmar, as it navigates a difficult transition toward democracy and the rule of law." publisher's blurb)
Author/creator: Melissa Crouch, Tim Lindsey (eds.)
Language: English
Source/publisher: Hart Publishing, Oxford
Format/size: pdf (188K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.hartpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?ISBN=9781849465977
Date of entry/update: 24 November 2014

Date of publication: 09 August 2014
Description/subject: "This article is written with four objectives: first, to introduce the evolution of aspects of Burmese law dealing with particular family law issues and their mode of function and operation since colonial times; second, to trace the consequences and changes that were effected in the structure of the Burmese judiciary as well as in aspects of legal thinking and discourse as a result of the 1962 military takeover, in order to relate them to some of the issues that arose in cases decided in the post-1962 era, and to juxtapose and contrast them with other decisions on similar subjects; third, to discern how the concepts of “original texts,” “interpretation,” “ideology,” and “policy” appear intermingled in pre- and post-1962 Burmese case law; and fourth, to illustrate that by analyzing these cases, a reasonable conclusion can be made that legal, political, social and ideological issues cannot always be delineated in the development of Burmese case law..."
Author/creator: Myint Zan
Language: English
Source/publisher: COLUMBIA JOURNAL OF ASIAN LAW Vol. 14, pp. 153-212
Format/size: pdf (369K)
Date of entry/update: 10 August 2014

Date of publication: June 2014
Description/subject: "...Through research on Myanmar, we argue that in authoritarian settings where legality has drastically declined, the starting point for cause lawyering lies in advocacy for law itself, in advocating for the regular application of law’s rules. Because this characterization is liable to be misunderstood as formalistic, particularly by persons familiar with less authoritarian, more legally coherent settings than the one with which we are here concerned, it deserves some brief comments before we continue...By insisting upon legal formality as a condition of transformative justice, cause lawyers in Myanmar advocate for the inherent value of rules in the courtroom, but also incrementally build a constituency in the wider society. In advocating for faithful application of declared rules, in insisting on formal legality in the public domain, lawyers encourage people to mobilize around law as an idea, essential for making law meaningful in practice. They promote a notion of the legal system as once more an arena in which citizens can set up interests that are not congruent with those of the state; an arena in which cause lawyering is made viable and in which the cause lawyer has a distinctive role to play..." Includes description and discussion of the Kanma land-grab case.....The digitised version may contain errors so the original is included an an Alternate URL.
Author/creator: Nick Cheesman, Kyaw Min San
Language: English
Source/publisher: Wisconsin International Law Journal
Format/size: pdf (226K-digitised version; 1.6MB-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs19/Cheesman_KMS__Not_just_defending-orig.pdf
Date of entry/update: 17 August 2014

Date of publication: 27 May 2014
Description/subject: Abstract: "Myanmar’s legal system is an understudied area in the academic field of Asian Legal Studies. This article aims to provide a map of legal scholarship in Myanmar that can be built on in the future. It identifies the key issues and arguments that have driven research on law in Myanmar, and the central academics whose oeuvre of publications have sustained the field. It is organized around four broad themes: custom, religion, and the law; public law and governance; corporate law; and the politics of law. It suggests that in order to build the next generation of legal scholarship, future research on Myanmar law must be grounded in its social, political, and historical context. This type of research requires the rediscovery of “law” in Myanmar by engaging with the existing body of social science literature on Burma Studies more generally."
Author/creator: Melissa Crouch
Language: English
Source/publisher: Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal, Vol. 23, No. 3
Format/size: pdf (401K)
Date of entry/update: 16 August 2014

Title: An Introduction to the Law and Judicial System of Myanmar
Date of publication: March 2014
Description/subject: "The intention of this paper is to provide an introduction to the law and legal system of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (Myanmar). Based on common legal texts, the paper highlights the main sources of law and legal institutions, in particular the judiciary and the legal profession. The paper also reviews the structure of the judicial system through different time periods, describes judicial appointments in the highest courts, and summarises key processes in civil and criminal practice and procedure. A brief bibliography is provided at the end of the paper..."
Author/creator: Nang Yin Kham
Language: English
Source/publisher: National University of Singapore
Format/size: pdf (370K)
Date of entry/update: 09 October 2015

Title: Law and Economic Development: The Cautionary Tale of Colonial Burma
Date of publication: January 2014
Description/subject: Abstract: "Burmese colonial history suggests that a legal system cannot operate independently from the felt needs of the people who are supposed to obey the law. Despite a monopoly of force for many decades, the British failed to create a sustainable legal system in Burma. Colonial status shifted Burma’s economic role from subsistence agriculture to the generation of large-scale exports. By undermining the traditional Burmese legal system and substituting Western international standards of property rights, enforceability of contracts, and an independent judiciary — all attributes of what some consider to be the “Rule of Law”— the legal system amplified and channelled destructive economic and social forces rather than containing them. This paper examines traditional Burmese law, the administration of law in British Burma, and the consequences of the new legal system for the country and its own stability. The paper concludes by suggesting lessons for Myanmar today, and for the study of the “Rule of Law." ..... Keywords: Rule of Law, colonial law, law and custom, law and development, colonial administration, Burma, Myanmar
Author/creator: Thomas H. Stanton
Language: English
Source/publisher: Asian Journal of Law and Society / FirstView Article / January 2014, pp 1 - 1
Format/size: pdf (312K-original; 252K-reduced version)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/Stanton-2014-01-Law_and_Economic_Development-Burma-red.pdf
Date of entry/update: 14 September 2015

Title: The Legal System of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in a Nutshell
Date of publication: September 2013
Description/subject: Table of Contents: 1. Introduction 2. A Brief Legal History 2.1 During the Reign of Monarchy 2.2 During the British Occupation 2.3 After Independence 3. Executive Organ 4. Legislative System 4.1 Legislative Process in the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw 4.2 Legislative Process in the Pyithu Hluttaw and the Amyotha Hluttaw 4.3 Legislative Process in the Region Hluttaw or State Hluttaw 4.4 Legislative Process in the Self-Administered Division and Self-Administered Zone Leading Bodies 5. Judiciary 5.1 The Supreme Court of the Union 5.2 High Courts of the Region and High Courts of the State 5.3 District Courts, Courts of the Self-Administered Division and Courts of the Self-Administered Zone 5.4 Township Courts 5.5 Courts-Martial 5.6 The Constitutional Tribunal of the Union 5.7 Other Courts 6. Sources of Law 7. Legal Profession 8. Legal Education 9. Useful Links
Author/creator: Kyaw Hla Win @ Md. Hassan Ahmed & Md. Ershadul Karim
Language: English
Source/publisher: GlobaLex
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 23 July 2014

Title: Lord Kyaw Thu's Precedent: a Sixteenth-Century Burmese Law Report
Date of publication: August 2012
Description/subject: "This chapter examines a law report on a disputed inheritance within a Tai (Siamese) noble family under the rule of an all-conquering Burmese king. The text itself is generally known as Shin kyaw thu pyatton (‘Lord Kyaw Thu's Precedent’). Pegu's Golden Palace was the centre of government for a vast mainland empire created by the early Toungoo-dynasty kings. The greatest of the conquerors was the White Elephant King of Hanthawaddy, known to history as King Bayinnaung (r. 1551-82), and The Precedent is the leading source on law and kingship under Bayinnaung's rule. It reveals a vibrant legalism quite different from those of its neighbours in East and South Asia. Some aspects of sixteenth-century Burmese legalism are reminiscent of Western European approaches to law and kingship, and the end of the chapter pursues this similarity by way of a contemporary English law report.... Keywords: Lord Kyaw Thu's Precedent; Burmese law; legal texts; King Bayinnaung; legalism; kingship; English law"
Author/creator: Andrew Huxley
Language: English
Source/publisher: Legalism, Anthropology and History (Paul Dresch and Hannah Skoda, eds.)
Format/size: pdf (411K)
Date of entry/update: 09 November 2014

Title: Samuhadda Vicchedani: An Overlooked Source on the Dhammathats
Date of publication: April 2008
Description/subject: "In 1874 the Burma Herald Press published Samuhaddha Vicchedani.1 This Pali title means “Decisions on the Whole Law.” The work has a Burmese subtitle Myanma taya lan dhammathat kyam which means “The Dhammathat book that is a Pathway to Burmese Law” or (if we translate taya lan as “legal principles”) “The Principles of Burmese Law Dhammathat book.” It consists of 314 pages of Burmese text, within which extracts from sixteen dhammathats are divided into eighteen topical Chapters. The final chapter, for example, deals with the topic of Debt and gives extracts from nine dhammathats about interest rates, sureties, refinancing, and bankruptcy. Daw Than Saw’s translation of that Chapter follows this introduction. Samuhadda Vicchedani is an important source on Burmese legal history, which has been too long ignored. Ryuji Okudaira (in 1979) and I (in 1997) both omitted it from our bibliographies of Burmese law.2 In fact no 20th century source makes mentions of it, though it was always on the shelves of European and American research libraries..."
Author/creator: Andrew Huxley
Language: English
Source/publisher: SOAS BULLETIN OF BURMA RESEARCH 5 2007
Format/size: pdf (168K)
Date of entry/update: 01 October 2010

Title: The Final Part of the Samuhadda Vicchedani, Relating to Debt
Date of publication: March 2008
Description/subject: [Readers are directed to Andrew Huxley’s introduction to this translation also in the present issue of the SBBR].
Author/creator: Daw Than Saw (trans)
Language: English
Source/publisher: SOAS BULLETIN OF BURMA RESEARCH 5 2007
Format/size: pdf (176K)
Date of entry/update: 01 October 2010

Title: Challenges Facing “State” Building in Burma: Law and Legal Dimension
Date of publication: 2006
Description/subject: Abstract: "This paper explores evolutional process of legal concept and theory in Burma. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the issues that Burma will face in legal transformation and building state in Burma. Since its independence, the post-colonial governments have failed to transform legal system in accordance with the social elements that govern daily lives of Burmese. The paper argues that there are two fundamental challenges Burmese society faces in legal transformation. The first challenge is the emergence of a new constitution that will serve as a framework of citizen-sovereign state. The second challenge resonates in the question of how Burmese society will achieve “rule of law” that will be congruent with institutional foundation of Burmese society."
Author/creator: Tun Myint
Language: English
Source/publisher: Indiana University
Format/size: pdf (65K)
Date of entry/update: 24 August 2012

Date of publication: 2004
Description/subject: "This article compares the annual Law Reports of the first year of Burmese independence in 1948 with those published in the fiftieth year of Burmese independence (1998). In making the comparison, the author highlights the fundamental changes that occurred in the structure and composition of the highest courts in Burma, along with relevant background and factors effecting these changes. There was a movement away from the predominant use of English in 1948 towards judgments exclusively in Burmese in the 1998 Law Reports. Burma's neighbours, who shared a common law legal heritage, did not follow this trend after their independence. This shift, combined with Burma's isolation from the rest of the world, makes analysis of Burmese case law from the past three and a half decades very difficult for anyone not proficient in the Burmese language. This article tries to fill the lacunae as far as the Law Report from the fiftieth year of Burma's independence is concerned."
Author/creator: Myint Zan
Language: English
Source/publisher: Victoria University of Wellington Law Review (Vol. 35, Issue 2)
Format/size: pdf (255K)
Date of entry/update: 21 August 2014

Title: Politics and Press Censorship in British Burma: The case of the Moulmein Chronicle
Date of publication: 20 March 2003
Description/subject: Seminar summary:... "...Burma’s first newspaper, the Maulmain Chronicle, was also Burma’s first casualty to the colonial press laws. Its story shows that in the middle of the 19th century, colonial officials manipulated the press laws for political or personal ends, and that the English press served less as a tool of propaganda than a means for private merchants to manipulate and antagonize the administration. The laws controlling the press in India were patterned on the press laws in England. Formed in the crucible of radical politics and spurred on by widespread libel in the 18th and early 19th century press, these laws protected public officials from scurrilous personal attacks..."
Author/creator: William Womack
Language: English
Source/publisher: SOAS Bulletin of Burma Research, Vol. 1, No., 1, Spring 2003
Format/size: pdf (39K) 2 pages
Date of entry/update: April 2003

Title: Pre-colonial Burmese Law: Conical hat and shoulder bag
Date of publication: October 2001
Description/subject: "Of all the pre-colonial Southeast Asian legal cultures, the Burmese ranks among the most fascinating. During the last twenty years, many new law texts have been published. They have answered some old questions and posed some new ones. I shall give an overview of scholarship since 1980 and explain its relevance to contemporary Burma's search for identity..."
Author/creator: Andrew Huxley
Language: English
Source/publisher: Newsletter, Issue 25, International Institute for Asian Studies (Leiden)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003

Title: A Burmese tract on kingship: political theory in the 1782 manuscript of Manugye
Date of publication: June 2001
Description/subject: "The eleven lists on kingship which we translate and discuss are taken from a manuscript of the Manugye dhammathat which was completed on 25 June 1782. We shall refer to it as B.1782. Manugye, the best known of the surviving Burmese dhammathats (law texts), was compiled in the 1750s during the reign of Alaungpaya (1752–60), the founder of the Konbaung dynasty (1752–1885)..."
Author/creator: Ryuji Okudaira and Andrew Huxley
Language: English
Source/publisher: Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (64 (2)
Format/size: pdf (87K)
Date of entry/update: 10 November 2014

Title: Judicial Independence in Burma: No March Backwards Towards the Past
Date of publication: 2000
Description/subject: "This paper discusses and analyzes judicial independence in Burma, primarily since independence in 1948. To that end, this paper analyzes and briefly comments on constitutional provisions concerning the independence of the judiciary in the two defunct provisions of post-independence constitutions of Burma, namely the 1947 and 1974 Constitutions. In doing so, the paper focuses mainly on the post-1948 and post-1962 developments. The post-1962 developments highlight how the military takeover in March of that year eroded and extinguished the independence of the judiciary in Burma. To appreciate the concept of the independence of the judiciary in historical perspective, however, it is helpful to trace briefly the concept and practice of judicial independence in the days of the Burmese monarchs of the pre-colonial era. Further, it is necessary to analyze briefly the impact of British law on the notions and practice of judicial independence in the colonial era..."
Author/creator: Myint Zan
Language: English
Source/publisher: Asian-Pacific Law and Policy Journal (APLPJ 5)
Format/size: pdf (154K)
Alternate URLs: http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/apcity/unpan010355.pdf
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003

Date of publication: 2000
Description/subject: Abstract: "After nearly thirty years of self imposed isolation, Myanmar has re- emerged as a significant potential destination for foreign investment. One of the key attractions of Myanmar as a destination for foreign investment is its legal system and historical commitment to the rule of law. With ASEAN membership and increasing levels of foreign investment in Myanmar, use of its legal system by foreign investors and their counsel has grown. The aim of this article is to outline, for both investors and legal professionals in other countries throughout the region, Myanmar's legal system and its practical operation in the area of commercial litigation, including the enforcement of foreign judgments and arbitral awards"
Author/creator: Alec Christie
Language: English
Source/publisher: Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal Association
Format/size: pdf (896K-original; 304K-OBL version)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs15/Rule_of_Law_in_Myanmar-red.pdf
Date of entry/update: 30 April 2013

Title: Woe Unto Ye Lawyers: Three Royal Orders Concerning Pleaders in Early Seventeenth-Century Burma*
Date of publication: 2000
Description/subject: "This Article is a discussion of three Royal Orders of King Anauk Hpet Lun of Burma (Ava as it was then also known) in the early seventeenth century. All of the three royal orders dealt with issues regulating (and reprimanding) shay-nay (pleaders/lawyers). In fact the three Royal Orders concerning pleaders were issued on a single day: 23 June 1607 AD. The Royal Orders were proclaimed by King Anauk Phet Lun who was the second king of the Nyaung Yan dynasty, which lasted from 1597 to 1754. The “source” where these Royal Orders were found by this author is from the first volume of the ten-volume The Royal Orders of Burma AD 1598-1885 compiled and translated by Dr. Than Tun, Emeritus Professor of History at Mandalay University, Burma..."
Author/creator: Myint Zan
Language: English
Format/size: pdf (285K)
Date of entry/update: 21 August 2014

Title: The Last 50 Years of Burmese Law: E Maung and Maung Maung
Date of publication: 1998
Description/subject: "Depending on when you start counting, Burma has enjoyed either forty-eight or fifty-four years of independence. De iure, the era of British colonisation came to an end on the 4th January, 1948. De facto, the British had lost control six years earlier when the Japanese army swept them and their Indian auxiliaries out of the country. Since independence, the principle question of Burmese law has been how much of the colonial legal system to jettison: there is general agreement that the legal system inherited in 1948 had to become more Burmese, but considerable debate about how far the legal decolonisation should go. This article deals with the issue in terms of personalities. I focus on the careers of the two most distinguished Burmese lawyers of the period and analyse their respective views on decolonisation. The influence of E Maung (1889-1972) over legal policy was felt most strongly during the 1950s. During the 1960s and 1970s Maung Maung (1925-1994) single handedly redesigned the legal system. In 1988 he became President of Burma, but was ousted, a month after his appointment, in SLORC's military coup. Since 1988 the Burmese state has been delegalised. Eight years after the coup, martial law remains in force and the colonels show no sign of respecting the result of the election they called in 1990. I conclude the article with speculations about the future. Since law has undergone so many changes over the last fifty years, there is no single status quo ante to which a democratic Burma could return. Theoretically, Burma could restore the substantive law and legal institutions that prevailed at any of the following dates: 1988, 1970, 1959, 1947 or 1884. Which of these options will be a realistic possibility if Burma ever does return to legality?"
Author/creator: Andrew Huxley
Language: English
Source/publisher: "LawAsia" 1998:9-20
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003

Title: The Importance of the Dhammathats in Burmese Law and Culture
Date of publication: 1997
Description/subject: Burma's dhammathats are pre-colonial compilations of legal and ethical material. They provide vivid insights into the details of everyday village life and into the process by which Burmese authors adapted Pali texts from India to their own purposes. They appear to be at least as old as any other surviving Burmese literature and contain valuable lessons for contemporary Burma. This article hopes to rescue them from their unjust neglect.
Author/creator: Andrew Huxley
Language: English
Source/publisher: Journal of Burma Studies Vol. 1 (1997)
Format/size: pdf (103K-reduced version; 1.28MB, original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.niu.edu/burma/publications/jbs/vol1/Abstract1_HuxleyOpt.pdf
Date of entry/update: 10 March 2009

Date of publication: 1996
Description/subject: Conclusions: "Whatever the causes of Burma’s pre-colonial legal profession, they are to be found in factors which were unique to Burma. Burma, along with Laos, Cambodia and Thailand, makes a distinct family of Buddhist legal systems. The members share a common classical heritage which each has wedded to its distinctive national tradition. Burma’s dhammathat traditions are historically linked with the law texts of its Theravada Buddhist neighbours. Yet none of its Buddhist neighbours developed a legal profession remotely like the she-ne. The causes of the emergence of the she- ne must be sought in the peculiarly Burmese traditions, rather than in Pali classicism. Perhaps the polyglot and multi-cultural ethos of Pagan played a role. Perhaps it is linked to the fact that Burma had less of a landed nobility than its neighbours, and had to offer commercially services that elsewhere came as part of a feudal package. Perhaps it reflected certain deep Burmese assumptions about appropriate interpersonal behaviour. Burmese has a word for an emotion - anade - which has no precise parallel in other languages. It refers to a tongue tied deference, partly pleasant and partly humiliating, which is felt in the presence of someone of higher status. Hiring a she- ne to act as your mouthpiece before the judge might have acted therapeutically to dispel this particular feeling."
Author/creator: Andrew Huxley
Language: English
Format/size: pdf (311K)
Date of entry/update: 10 November 2014

Title: Buddhist Law According to the Theravāda-Vinaya: A survey of Theory and Practice
Date of publication: 1995
Description/subject: "...The arrangement of texts in the Theravada canon underlines the importance of Buddhist law, for it is contained in the first part of the Tipitaka, the "basket of the discipline" (Vinaya-pitaka) followed by the "basket of the teaching" (Sutta-pitaka). This sequence is found already in the well-known account of the first council held at Rajagaha ... immediately after the death of the Buddha according to the Buddhist tradition..."
Author/creator: Oskar Von Hinüber
Language: English
Source/publisher: Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, Vol. 18, No. 1 1995
Format/size: pdf (606K)
Date of entry/update: 02 November 2014

Date of publication: 1994
Description/subject: "...I divide this paper into three sections as follows : [1] The Period of Implantation — Here I describe the endogenous pre-Indian law of S.E. Asia, and the first eight centuries of Indian legal influence. ... The processes I describe apply equally to the importation of Buddhism and Hinduism, so I do not limit myself to discussing Buddhist examples. This section is headed ‘The Indianisa- tion of S.E. Asia 300 BCE — 900 CE ’..... [2] The Period of Fruition — From the ninth century comes our first evidence of legalistic dispute settlement in S.E. Asia. The spread of literacy beyond the palace and the monastery raised expectations that the Indian derived law texts should be applied, rather than just displayed in the palace among the regalia and power-objects. A century later, the classical empires of Pagan and Angkor are launched on their spectacular path. In extent and duration, these empires eclipsed the kingdoms that preceded them. We have a reasonably good knowledge of their legal systems from the extensive inscriptions that they have left. I discuss the issues raised by Questions All to A16 of the outline in relation to Pagan as the paradigm of ‘Buddhist Law’ and Angkor as the paradigm of ‘Hindu Law’. This section is headed ‘Hindu Law and Buddhist Law in Classical Pagan and Angkor 950-1300 CE ’..... [3] The Period of Destiny — The fall of Angkor and Pagan coincides with Kublai Khan’s attempted invasion, the emergence into political prominence of a new linguistic family — the Thai — and the religious conversion of virtually all mainland Hindus tcy Theravada Buddhism. From 1300 to 1860 CE the two transplanted Indian legal systems work out their destiny, largely unaffected by legal developments outside the region. Mainland S.E. Asia produces three different syntheses of Indian law. Both the west and the north develop from the Pagan model of Buddhist law, but the west, with its larger, more powerful and longer-lasting states, develops much more legal autonomy than does the north. The east, though Theravada Buddhist in religion, mixes elements of Pagan ‘Buddhist law’ and Angkor ‘Hindu law’ together to make its own distinctive destiny. I discuss the issues raised by Questions B1 to B21 of the outline in relation to these three variations of the transplantation of Indian law. This section is headed ‘The Theravada Buddhist legal systems of Mainland S.E. Asia 1300 — I860 CE ’..."
Author/creator: Andrew Huxley
Language: English
Source/publisher: La Réception des Systèmes Juridiques: Implantation et Destin, Brussels: Bruylant (1994), pp 139-237
Format/size: pdf (1.2MB)
Date of entry/update: 16 November 2014

Date of publication: 1987
Description/subject: "...I shall sketch the main outline of Burmese family law rather than concentrate on recent developments. There are two main aspects of comparative interest. First, Buddhist ethics combine with Burmese sentiments to produce a system with very little sexual discrimination: “There is ho country where the principle of equality of the sexes has been carried further than in Burma,”1 enthused an English judge in 1927. Second, law, meaning both state-appointed judges applying state-based sanctions and religious leaders applying conscience-based sanctions, is strikingly absent from the regulation of the Burmese family. The important sanctions are those of local group pressure, which restrict parties to a narrow range of behavior permitted by family law..."
Author/creator: Andrew Huxley
Language: English
Source/publisher: JOURNAL OF FAMILY LAW (Vol. 27, 1988-89)
Format/size: pdf (260K)
Date of entry/update: 16 November 2014

Title: Burmese Law Tales - The Legal Element in Burmese Folk-lore
Date of publication: 1962
Description/subject: "...When I was preparing the manuscript of my collection of "Burmese Folk-Tales" for publication in 1948, for some time I was unable to decide whether to include in that collection the Law Tales which are now given in the following pages. Finally, I decided that they should be left out because, first, I thought that they were borrowings from Hindu legal literature, and second, I thought that they had already been collected in the various Burmese legal writings. In both these assumptions I was wrong, and I was wrong because I then accepted the orthodox theory, first advanced by a European scholar of Burmese history [Forchammer: Jardine Prize Essay - see Bibliography] that Burmese law was merely a derivation of Hindu law. After the publication of the "Folk-Tales", I started my study of the Burmese legal writings (which still exist in hundreds in palm-leaf manuscript in the National Library, Rangoon), and I soon made the discovery that of the 65 Law Tales, only 28 were to be found in Burmese legal literature and of these 28, many were found merely as outlines and not as full-length stories. Further study led to the discovery that Burmese law was native in origin and was very little influenced by Hindu law. In 1950, in my lectures to the students of the Faculty of Law at the University of Rangoon, I criticized the orthodox theory of the Hindu origin of Burmese law, shocking not only the students, but also many scholars of Burmese law and Burmese history. My theory, however, was supported in 1951 by one of the most erudite jurists in Burma, Dr. U. E. Maung (at that time a judge of the Burmese Supreme Court) in a series of lectures. Today, of course, my new theory is generally accepted and is no longer considered heretical and far-fetched. - Maung Htin Aung ..."
Author/creator: Maung Htin Aung
Language: English
Source/publisher: Oxford University Press
Format/size: pdf (4.3MB)
Date of entry/update: 16 November 2014

Title: Litigation and crime (pp131-141 of "Colonial Policy and Practice")
Date of publication: 1948
Description/subject: Comparison of British and Burmese ideas on legal procedure and law.
Author/creator: J. S. Furnivall
Language: English
Source/publisher: Cambridge University Press
Format/size: pdf (334K)
Date of entry/update: 18 February 2014

Title: The Burmese Empire a Hundred Years Ago
Date of publication: 1893
Description/subject: First published: 1833....CONTENTS: INTRODUCTION; LIST OF THE PRINCIPAL WORKS REFERRED TO; PREFACE BY MR. JARDINE; PREFACE BY CARDINAL WISEMAN; DESCRIPTION OF THE BURMESE EMPIRE... BURMESE COSMOGRAPHY: I. Of the Measures and Divisions of Time commonly used in the Sacred Burmese Books; II. Of the World and its Parts; III. Of the Beings that live in this World, of their Felicity or Misery, and of the Duration of their Life; IV. Of the States of Punishment; V. Of the Destruction and Reproduction of the World; VI. Of the Inhabitants of the Burmese Empire.... BURMESE HISTORY: VII. Origin of the Burmese Nation and Monarchy; VIII. Abridgment of the Burmese Annals, called Maharazven; IX. Of the present Royal Family, and of the Principal Events that have taken place under the Reigning Dynasty.... CONSTITUTION OF THE BURMESE EMPIRE: X. Of the Emperor, and of his White Elephants; XI. Officers of State and of the Household, Tribunals, and Administration of Justice; XII. Revenue and Taxes; XIII. Army and Military Discipline.... RELIGION OF THE BURMESE: XIV. The Laws of Godama; XV. Of the Talapoins; XVI. The Sermons of Godama; XVII. Superstitions of the Burmese.... MORAL AND PHYSICAL CONSTITUTION OF THE BURMESE EMPIRE: XVIII. Character of the Burmese; XIX. Manners and Customs of the Burmese; XX. Literature and Sciences of the Burmese; XXI. Natural Productions of the Burmese Empire; XXII. Calendar of the Burmese. Climate and Seasons of the Burmese Empire; XXIII. Of the Currency and Commerce of the Burmese Empire.... BURMESE CODE: XXIV. Abstract of the Burmese Code entitled Damasat; or the Golden Rule
Author/creator: Father Vincenzo Sangermano
Language: English
Source/publisher: Archibald Constable & Co.
Format/size: pdf (6MB-OBL version)
Date of entry/update: 21 September 2010

Title: The Royal Orders of Burma (1598-1885)
Date of publication: 1885
Description/subject: All 10 volumes..."Edited with Introduction, Notes and Summary in English of Each Order by THAN TUN, M.A.,B.L., Ph.D. (London), Professor of History , Mandalay University".....The documents were subsequently prepared and digitised by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University.....The versions offered here by the Online Burma/Myanmar Library have been reduced in size using Finereader-11 ocr software. This makes the files more accessible, but may involve some loss of resolution. The Kyoto versions may be accessed via the Alternate link to the Kyoto site.
Author/creator: Than Tun (editor)
Language: English, Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Source/publisher: Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University
Format/size: pdf (32K)
Alternate URLs: http://repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dspace/handle/2433/173188
Date of entry/update: 05 October 2014

Title: Notes on Buddhist Law
Date of publication: 1883
Description/subject: INDEX TO NOTES I TO VIII ON BUDDHIST LAW:- NOTE I – MARRIAGE (899K): 1. How contracted... 2. Its incidents..... NOTE II – MARRIAGE (1.6MB): 1. How dissolved. The right to divorce and the rights flowing from divorce..... NOTE III – MARRIAGE (3.2MB): Preface including introductory remarks by Dr. E. Forchhammer, Professor of Pali... 1.Translation of Wunnana Dhammathat on marriage, with a commentary... 2. Translation of the Wunnana Dhammathat on divorce, with a commentary.... Appendices: A —Translation of the Wini Tsaya Paka Thani Dhammathat on marriage and divorce... B.—Cases illustrative of the Buddhist law as now administered in the Court of the Judicial Commissioner of British Burma and the Subordinate Courts...... NOTE IV. -- MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE (not yet available): .1. On the Hindu origin of the Burmese law, by J. Jardine, Esq., Judicial Commissioner of British Burma... 2. Introductory preface by Dr. E. Forchhammer, Professor of Pali... 3. Translation of the Wagaru Dhammathat on marriage and divorce from a Pali manuscript on palm-leaves by Dr. E. Forchhammer, Professor of Pali... 4. Translation of the Manu Reng Dhammathat on marriage and divorce from the printed Burmese edition of Maung Tet Tu, with notes, by Dr. E. Forchhammer, Professor of Pali... 5. Appendix of cases illustrating the Burmese law of marriage and divorce as now administered..... NOTE V. -- INHERITANCE AND PARTITION (1.7MB): Preface... 1. Translation by Mr. S. Minus of the chapter on inheritance and some miscellaneous sections of the Manu Wunnana Dhammathat as edited in Burmese by Maung Tet Tu, with notes by J. Jardine, Esq , Judicial Commissioner of British Burma... 2. Translation of the. Law of Inheritance according to the Wagaru Dhammathat by Dr. E. Forchhammer. Professor of Pali, from a Pali manuscript on palm-leaves in his possession..... NOTE VI. -- INHERITANCE AND PARTITION (315K): Preface... Translation by Maung Tecka Phyu of' the Law of Inheritance according to the Mohavicchedani Dhammathat from a Burmese manuscript : edited by Dr. E, Forchhammer, Professor of Pali..... NOTE VII – INHERITANCE AND PARTITION (828K): Preface... Translation by Maung Tekka Phyu and Mr. S. Minus from a Burmese manuscript on palm-leaves, of the Law of Inheritance in the Dhammvilasa: revised and edited by Dr. E. Forchhammer, Professor of Pali..... NOTE VIII – MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE (381K): Preface... Translation by Mr. S. Minus of the Law of Marriage and Divorce according to the Mohavicchedani Dhammathat from a Burmese manuscript on palm-leaves: edited by Dr. E. Forchhammer, Professor of Pali...... The individual volumes (Vol. 4 is missing) have different dates - 1883, 1888, 1903, and 1953. 1883 being the earliest, we have used this date for the dossier.
Author/creator: John Jardine
Language: English
Source/publisher: Judicial Commissioner, British Burma
Format/size: pdf (70K)
Date of entry/update: 21 October 2014

Title: Sangermano-Abstract on the Dhammathats (from "Description of the Burmese Empire")
Date of publication: 1833
Description/subject: "This Code is divided into ten volumes, which treat of every thing relating to donations, heirships, and all other matters under the jurisdiction of the courts..."
Author/creator: Vincenzo Sangermano
Language: English
Source/publisher: Description of the Burmese Empire, 1833
Format/size: pdf (1.15MB)
Date of entry/update: 11 November 2014

Title: King Wagaru's Manu Dhammasattham (text, translation and notes)
Date of publication: 1707
Description/subject: "...The great interest of the “ Wagaru Dhammathat ” lies in its being substantially a law-book of what Sir Sumner Maine considers the modem type. Being based on justice and expediency, it resembles our own law of contract or tort in its easy applicability to all persons in the same civilization without reference to their creeds. This simplicity allows the courts in Burma almost the same scope for applying equity as exists in England..."
Author/creator: Dr. Forchhammer (trans), John Jardine (Preface)
Language: English, Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Source/publisher: Government of Burma
Format/size: pdf (4.4MB)
Date of entry/update: 18 November 2014