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The fact that Scotland, while still part of the United Kingdom, has its own legal system is not an accident. Nor is it just a product of its geography. Had it been so, the system would surely have had shallow roots. It would long ago have been completely absorbed into the legal system of its much bigger southern neighbour. As it is, Scots law was able to retain its own distinct institutions and identity in 1707 when the Union with England was entered into. This is because by then it had developed its own coherent system of law. It was a system with a sound jurisprudential base, and it could stand on its own feet. That Scotland was able to achieve this was in no small measure due to the inspiration that students from Scotland found when they travelled to Holland in search of education in the civil law the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The links that they established with the university at Leiden and some of its celebrated jurists during this period were particularly strong and productive. They helped to lay the foundation for the legal system that Scotland could assert as its own. This paper seeks to trace the history of this relationship, and to identify the extent to which its influence can still be found in Scots law as it exists today.


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