Vernon Valentine Palmer

Thomas Pickles Chair

Co-Director, Eason Weinmann Center for Comparative Law
Office Address
Weinmann Hall, Room 216-C
Vernon Palmer

Education & Affiliations

DPhil, 1985, Pembroke College, Oxford University
LLM, 1966, Yale University
LLB, 1965, Tulane University
BA, 1962, Tulane University


Vernon Valentine Palmer, who specializes in comparative law and European and French civil law, has been teaching and researching for more than 50 years, including extensive work abroad in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Japan and Africa.

In recognition of his contributions to the field of comparative law, The International Academy of Comparative Law in Paris, maned him is 2022 one of the World's Greatest Comparativist. Paris-Dauphine University conferred upon him the title Docteur Honoris Causa in 2012. In 2006, French President Jacques Chirac made Palmer a “chevalier” in the French Legion of Honor, the country’s highest civilian award, recognizing his work to build stronger ties between the United States and France. Earlier Palmer received from the French Prime Minister the Palmes Académiques.

Palmer has written more than 50 books and articles, focusing his research on the comparative law of obligations, code revision, legal history delictual liability and third-party beneficiary contracts. He is the author of Through the Codes Darkly: Slave Law and Civil Law in Louisiana (The Lawbook Exchange 2012) and editor of Mixed Jurisdictions Worldwide (Cambridge University Press 2nd edition 2012), the leading text in the field.

He has spent 52 years on the Tulane Law faculty. He received the Sumter Marks Award in 2000 and 2001 in recognition of his research. And in 2005, he received the Tulane University Provost’s Award for Excellence in Research and Scholarship. In 1986-87 and 1992-93, Palmer held the Chair of Common Law at the University of Paris (Sorbonne), and in subsequent years has been a Visiting Professor of Comparative Law at Bucerius Law School in Hamburg; the Ramon Llull University in Barcelona; the University of Trent in Trento, Italy; the University of Lausanne; the University of Geneva; and the University of Fribourg.

He was organizing chair of the First Worldwide Congress on Mixed Jurisdictions, held in New Orleans in 2002, and is the founder and President of the World Society of Mixed Jurisdiction Jurists. In 2003, he was elected a titulary member of the International Academy of Comparative Law at the Hague. 


Selected Publications

Absolute Emancipation 85 SOUTH AFRICAN L.J. 24 (1968)

The Misinterpretation of Article, 1801 46 TUL. L. REV. 859 (1972)

A Review of the Louisiana Law on Potestative Conditions, 47 TUL. L. REV. 284 (1973) (with Plauché)

Symposium on Incapacity, 47 TUL. L. REV. 1085 (1973)

Contractual Negligence in the Civil Law -- The Evolution of a Defense to Actions for Error 50 TUL. L. REV. 1 (1975)

In Quest of a Strict Liability Standard Under the Code 56 TUL. L. REV. 1317 (1982)

Why Privity Entered Tort -- An Historical Reexamination of Winterbottom v. Wright 27 AM. J. LEGAL HIST. 85 (1983)

Common Lawyer as Civilian Intermediaries: The Influence of Roman Law and Civil Law in England and the United States Tulane Law 40 (1986)

Trois Principes de la Responsabilité Sans Faute 1987 REVUE INTERNATIONALE DE DROIT COMPARE 825

The Residential Lease in the Civil Law -- A Consideration in Social Context 4 TUL. CIV. L. FORUM (1988)

A General Theory of the Inner Structure of Strict Liability -- Common Law, Civil Law, Comparative Law 62 TUL. L. REV. 1303 (1988) 

The Death of a Code -- The Birth of a Digest, 63 TUL. L. REV. 221 (1988)

The History of Privity -- The Formative Period 33 Amer. J. Legal History. (1989)

Revision of the Code or Regression to a Digest? A Rejoinder to Professor Cueto-Rua 64 Tul. L. Rev. 177 (1989)

The Great Debate Over the Louisiana Civil Code's Revision (with Dennis, J. et. al), 5 Tul. Civ. L. Forum 49 (1990)

Tortious Interference With Contract at French Law: An ExcursionAlong a Road Not Taken 6/7 Tul. Civ. L. Forum (1991-92)

A Comparative Study (From a Common Law Perspective) of the French Action for Wrongful Interference With Contract 40 Amer. J. Comparative Law (1992)

Celebrating the Québec Codification Achievement: A Louisiana Perspective 38 Loy. L. Rev. 311 (1992)

The Many Guises of Equity in a Mixed Jurisdiction 69 Tul. L. Rev. 7 (1994)

The Authors and Origins of the Code Noir 56 La. L. Rev.363 (1996)

“Que Dieu nous garde de l’équité des Parlements:” Equity Through the Lens of Separation of Powers 73 Tul. L. Rev. 1287 (1999)

From Embrace to Banishment: A Study of Judicial Equity in France 47 Amer. J. of Comp. Law 277 (1999)

The Fate of the General Clause in a Cross-Cultural Setting: The Tort Experience of Louisiana, 46 Loy. L. Rev. 535 (2000)

Insularity and Leadership in American Comparative Law: The Past One Hundred Years 75 Tul. L. Rev. 1093 (2001)

Contracts In Favor of Third Parties in Europe: Steps Toward Tomorrow’s Harmonization ,1-2003 European Review of Private Law 8 The Comparative Law and Economics of Pure Economic Loss, (with Bussani and Parisi) 51 Am.J. Comp. Law (2003).

The French Connection and the Spanish Perception: Historical Debates And Contemporary Evaluation of French Influence on Louisiana Civil Law La. L. Rev. (2004)

The Recent Discovery of Moreau Lislet’s System of Omissions and Its Importance to the Debate over the Source of the Digest of 1808 49 Loyola L. Rev. 301 (2003)

From Lerotholi to Lando: Some Examples of Comparative Law Methodology, American Journal of Comparative Law (2005), and published online at (Global Jurist), and as chapter contribution in Mélanges Blanc-Jouvan

The Customs of Slavery: The War Without Arms, American Journal of Legal History (2007); also published online 6 Global Jurist , Issue 1 (2006) accessible at

Historical Notes on the First Codes and Institutions in French Louisiana (Festschrift honoring Professor Saul Litvinoff, 2007))

Two Rival Theories of Mixed Legal Systems, 3 Journal of Comparative Law 7 (2007), and online at www.

The Louisiana Supreme Court in Question: an Empirical and Statistical Study of the Effects of Campaign Money on the Judicial Function (with Levendis) 82 Tul. L. Rev. 1291 (2008)

Quebec and Her Sisters in the Third Legal Family, 42 McGill Law Journal (2009)

The Strange Science of Codifying Slavery—Moreau Lislet and the Louisiana Digest of 1808, 24 Tul. European & Civil Law Forum 83(2009)

The Recusal of American Judges in the Post-Caperton Era: An Empirical Assessment of the Risk of Actual bias in Decisions Involving Campaign Contributors, Global Jurist: vol 10: Iss. 23 (Frontiers) Article 4.

Three Milestones in the History of Privacy in the United States 26 Tul Euro. and Civil Law Forum (2011)

The Great Spill in the Gulf … and a Sea of Pure Economic Loss: Reflections on the Boundaries of Civil Liability, 115 Penn State L. Rev. ( September 2011)

Double Reasoning in the Codified Mixed Jurisdictions: Code and Caselaw as Simultaneous Methods in Quebec, Puerto Rico and Louisiana, 6 The Journal of Comparative Law 2011,(Forthcoming 2012)

Mixed Legal Systems—The Origins of the Species, in Italian Annuario (forthcoming 2013)

The Quest to Implant Civilian Method in Louisiana: Tracing the O Origins of Judicial Methodology (The Tucker Lecture at LSU), Louisiana Law Review (Spring 2013)

Book Reviews

N. Whitty and R. Zimmermann, Rights of Personality in Scots Law: A Comparative Perspective, Vol 25 Tulane European and Civil Law Forum (2010) 


“On the High Road to Scotland with T.B. Smith” in Essays in Honor of Sir Thomas Smith (Edinburgh Press 2005)

“The Frontier between Contractual and Tortious Liability in Europe: Insights from the Case of Compensation for Pure Economic Loss”, (with Bussani), forming Chapter 38, in Towards a European Civil Code (3rd Edition 2004); and also appearing in Bases de un derecho contractual Europeo, edited by Espiau and Vaquer (Valencia 2003)

“In a Race Against Time” Essays in Honor of Denis Tallon, (Paris)

“Concernant le 200eme anniversaire du Code Napoléon: son importance historique et contemporaine sur la codification du droit in Louisiane” in Le Code Civil 1804-2004, Livre du Bicentenaire (Dalloz 2004)

“L’essor et le déclin du modèle napoléonien en Louisiane” in Code Civil et Modèles (sous la direction de Thierry Revet) (LGDJ Paris 2005)

“Between Contract and Tort: Pure Economic Loss in Europe” (with Bussani) in Nili Cohen and Ewan McKendrick, Comparative Remedies for Breach of Contract (Hart 2005)

“Mixed Jurisdictions” in Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law (Jan Smits ed. 2006, 2nd ed 2012))

“Mixed Legal Systems” in Encyclopedia of Law & Society (David Clark ed. 2007)

“Contracts of Intellectual Gratification –A Louisiana-Scotland Creation” in Vernon Palmer and Elspeth Reid (eds), Mixed Jurisdictions Compared: The Private Law of Louisiana and Scotland (Edinburgh Univ. Press 2009)

“Mixed Legal Systems” in The Cambridge Companion to Comparative Law (Mattei and Bussani eds.,Cambridge Univ. Press 2012)

“The Frontier between Contractual and Tortious Liability in Europe: Insights from the Case of Compensation for Pure Economic Loss” (with Mauro Bussani) (2011) in Towards a New European Civil Code

"The Great Spill in the Gulf…and a Sea of Pure Economic Loss: Reflections on the boundaries of Civil Liability" in Lei Chen & C.H. van Rhee (eds) Towards a Chinese Civil Code (Nijhoff 2012)

"Mixed Legal Systems: The Origins of the Species" in Italian Annuario 2013, Barbara Pozzo (ed).

"Mixed Jurisdictions" in Jans Smits (ed) Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law (Cheltenham, 2nd ed. 2012).