Hoist by the Colonizer’s Own Device? Law Reporting in Mandatory Palestine

Yair Sagy, Eyal Katvan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article tells the history of the Palestine Law Reports series (PLR), introduced in 1934 to Mandate-ruled Palestine. It unearths discussions that preceded the PLR’s publications following a campaign for authorized law reporting launched by lawyers in Palestine in the 1920s to 1930s. Canvassing a broad institutional context for the emergence of the PLR, we argue that in launching the campaign local lawyers sought not only to render Palestinian common law more predictable and amenable to professional handling, but also to approximate the role granted in the metropole and the common law tradition to practicing lawyers in propagating binding precedents. Local lawyers wanted to have a slice of the action of creating a local common law and in designing the Palestinian legal landscape. Unsurprisingly, they were met with the opposition of Chief Justice McDonnell, who sought to control the PLR enterprise, resisting non-judicial involvement in its editing and production. Finally, the article argues that, regardless of McDonnell’s motivations, from an institutional point of view, his achievement in laying down a foundational institution for the generation of a local common law is momentous. He therefore emerges from our analysis as one of the chief architects of the common law in Palestine, and—to this day—in Israel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-401
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican Journal of Legal History
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
VC The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Law


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