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Beware of legal Francophilia

It’s a good story, and I agree with Simon Jenkins about the connected problems of police ineffectiveness and lack of traditional social restraints in Britain. No doubt the story is true, and perhaps things are better in France. But I’m always sceptical of this sort of thinking because a recurrent fancy of British writers about law is a belief that over the channel lies a land where all law and justice is wise and good. French justice has many good ideas (I like the juge des enfants especially, who hears youth criminal cases as well as care, contact and residence cases) but it has some bad ones, too (like its dodginess on the burden of proof in criminal cases). So English admiration for all things juridiques needs to be kept in proportion.

I think the other strain of this condition diverts the object of admiration northwards and takes the form of a belief that all things legal and Scottish are wise, true and good. Not proven is my verdict on that one too.

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