Article title Legal System: the Concept and Diversity in the Modern World

Doctor of legal sciences,  Docent, Corresponding Member of the National Academy of Legal Sciences of Ukraine, Head of the Department of International Private Law and Comparative Law Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University (Kharkov, Ukraine)


Name of magazine Legal journal «Law of Ukraine» (Ukrainian version)
Issue 3/2019
Сторінки [158-176]

Currently there is a need for a comparative legal study of the legal systems existing in today’s world with the aim of identifying their common features and differences, and also determining the phenomena which do not have the properties of a legal system. An important general theoretical issue is working out of common terminology to refer to different legal systems.

 The purpose of the article is to analyze various legal systems of the world, identify their specific features, and to mark them off from non-legal phenomena, and also to develop appropriate terminology denoting this.

The author defines a legal system as an aggregate of all its legal phenomena which are sustainably interconnected with each other and with other social systems thus ensuring a legal system’s integrity and legal succession; this aggregate is formed under the influence of objective regularities present in the development of a certain social community. The article focuses on the legal system’s features and structure which understanding allows to analyze various objects for the presence of necessary elements and explore their specific properties. On the global scale, the most widespread type of a legal system is national legal systems formed within the boundaries of each State. As of 2018, there were 194 such systems. Within national systems, sub-national legal systems can be established, and they are most common in federal countries. However, there are cases when such systems are formed within the framework of countries with a unitary state structure (Denmark, China, UK, etc.), which have regions with special autonomous rights. Legal systems which go beyond a certain State are referred to as supranational. For their part, they are divided into international and religious ones.

The article addresses one of the most pressing issues of our time – the existence of statelike entities which claim to be recognized as having own statehood and a respective legal system. An analysis of their specific features and structure leads to the conclusion that not all of them actually form statehood and a legal system.

The author distinguishes between quasi-national legal systems which actually function in unrecognized States and pseudolegal ones which merely imitate the external characteristics of a legal system. Thus, a rather complex set of legal systems which have different origins, characteristics and significance, should be distinguished on the legal map of the modern world. In today’s world, national legal systems are the most developed systems of law which actually form the framework of the global legal order. Any other legal systems can be effective only in cooperation with national law. In addition to national, we should also distinguish between subnational and supranational legal systems. The latter can be divided into international (formed by groups of States) and religious (formed by respective religious communities). Legal systems of unrecognized States of the world are referred to as quasi-national. Phenomena which merely try to imitate the State and law but actually have a pseudo-state and pseudo-legal character should not be confused with legal systems of the world.


Keywords legal system; legal map of the world; national legal system, supranational legal system; sub-national and quasi-national legal system; pseudo-state; pseudo-legal system



Authored books

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Conference papers

25. Katkova T, ‘Subnacional’nye pravovye sisiemy sovremennogo Kitaya’ [‘Subnational Legal Systems of Modern China’] v Porіvnyal’ne pravoznavstvo: suchasnij stan ta perspektivi rozvitku (Fenіks 2013) 107-9 (in Russian).



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27. Lukianov D, ‘Relihiino-pravovi systemy svitu: porivnialno-pravove doslidzhennia’ [‘Religious and Legal Systems of the World: Comparative Legal Study’] (dys d-ra yuryd nauk, Nats yuryd un-t im Yaroslava Mudroho, 2016) (in Ukrainian).

28. Luts L, ‘Yevropeiski mizhderzhavni pravovi systemy: zahalnoteoretychna kharakterystyka’ [‘European Interstate Legal Systems: General Theoretical Characteristics’] (dys d-ra yuryd nauk, Lvivskii natsionalnyi universytet imeni Ivana Franka 2004) (in Ukrainian).

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30. Pohrebniak S, ‘Osnovopolozhni pryntsypy prava’ [‘Fundamental Principles of Law’] (dys d-rа yuryd nauk, Natsionalna yurydychna akademiia Ukrainy imeni Yaroslava Mudroho 2009) (in Ukrainian).



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