Page:An introduction to Roman-Dutch law.djvu/63

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General Introduction

Having served their turn they will yield to the fate of all things mortal. But the spirit of justice which inspires them and the rules of law which they express will live embodied in new forms. The reproach levied against the Roman-Dutch Law by a learned writer lately deceased, that its text-books are antiquated and its weapons rusty, if it is true to-day, will be true no longer.

in British Guiana, In British Guiana the doom of the Roman-Dutch Law has been pronounced. The ‘Common Law Commission’ appointed by the Governor of the Colony has recently reported in favour of its replacement by the Common Law of England, to the exclusion, however, of the English Law of Real Property. Whether this scheme will be carried out in its entirety remains to be seen.

Meanwhile the Commissioners append to their Report the draft of ‘An Ordinance to codify certain portions of the Roman-Dutch Law of the Colony and to substitute the English Common Law and principles of Equity for the Roman-Dutch common law’, and propose that it should come into operation by January 1, 1915.[1] The justification for a change of so uncompromising a character is found in the circumstances of the Colony.

‘While much has gone from the Roman-Dutch domain much remains. Roman-Dutch Law may be seldom quoted in the Courts and even then with little hope of the quotation seriously affecting the issue. English authorities and precedents may tend more and more to have weight with judges and lawyers to its exclusion. But it remains as an element of uncertainty. We have all the disadvantage of a mixed system without the elasticity of the Roman-Dutch jurisprudence.’

‘It increases the work of both judge and counsel. It wastes time and is a source of expense. In this country it is not a living system. We have no resident Dutch population and few even of the Dutch names survive. The colonists have no sentimental affection for any legal legacy of the Batavian Republic of 1803 or the Kingdom of the Netherlands of 1814. Our population is a small one, very mixed in race. East Indians and Portuguese make
  1. This design has not been realized. See Preface.