The inter-colonial element in colonial statute law : An enquiry into aspects of the legislation of the British settlement colonies, 1790-1900
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The thesis considers various of the factors which shaped the development of the statute law of the British settlement colonies in the nineteenth century. The principal argument is that the conventional analysis which largely ascribes legal development in each colony to either British precedents or indigenous innovations and regards the influence of other colonies as of only occasional importance is inadequate and must be modified. The thesis proposes instead an analysis which recognises borrowing from other colonies as a standard means of legal development and reform. Archival, parliamentary and other sources are used to assess the factors influencing legal developments found in several colonies. The thesis examines some of the elements which influenced the choices made by colonial legislators or legislatures in the selection of colonial or English statutes as the basis for further colonial legislation. The discussion is illustrated by examination of particular areas of law and by a reference to the degree to which statute law was the product of the influence of certain individuals and institutions. In particular there is discussion of the role of the members of the judiciary and of other colonial officials, particularly the Parliamentary Draftsmen employed in some colonies in the latter part of the period, as well as consideration of the nature and impact of legislation put forward by private members of the legislative bodies. The role and effect of the Colonial Office in monitoring and developing colonial law is also discussed. The thesis also seeks to explore the formal and informal channels by which legal ideas and innovations passed from colony to colony, particularly the developments which were generated by the migration of individuals between colonies or which relied, in whole or in part, on unofficial links between government officials, lawyers, politicians or other individuals in the different colonies.