Deep Irony – The Law of the Gift

Richard Hyland, Gifts: A Study in Comparative Law (Oxford University Press 2009). Iris Goodwin A cursory perusal of Richard Hyland's Gifts: A Study in Comparative Law (2009)1 reveals a massive work of such erudition that the twenty years Hyland admits he devoted to it seems neither surprising nor, indeed, unreasonable. Gifts not only manages to do yeoman's work for the practicing attorney-providing six chapters that survey the essential aspects of the substantive law of gifts in three common law and five civil law jurisdictions-but this work is likely to change the terms of future discussion about the gift among comparativists and other scholars in the humanities and social sciences. Demanding though this work is, however, the material remains thoroughly ac­cessible. Written in prose that is a model of concise lucidity, the work will engage someone who picks it up and reads a section or two. But the book is ultimately a page-turner and anyone who absorbs one section is likely to succumb to its richness and turn to the beginning, reading the book as it ultimately de­mands to be read-from cover to cover. The bulk of the work consists of six chapters that survey the law in the common law jurisdictions of England, the United States, and India, as well as the civil law jurisdictions of Germany, Italy, Spain, France, and Belgium. In addition, Hyland frequently gilds the lily with Roman, medieval, and early modern antecedents, especially where the law encompasses exception layered upon exception, only explicable-Hyland argues-as the excrescence of centuries of legislative tweaking. Continue reading "Deep Irony – The Law of the Gift"

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