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Burmese legal history

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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: 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: 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: 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: 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 (1.28MB)
Date of entry/update: 10 March 2009

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 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