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This study explores the significant influence of the Roman-Dutch legal heritage on Sri Lanka's legal system from its inception in 1602 A.D. by the Dutch. The Dutch East India Company's creation and subsequent dominance over the Maritime Provinces permitted the assimilation of Roman-Dutch law, which continues to serve as the basis for many present-day legal frameworks in Sri Lanka. The Portuguese discovery of the maritime route to India and the resulting European need for spices sparked the Dutch-Portuguese competition, which ultimately led to the establishment of the V.O.C. in 1602.

The V.O.C. had significant authority, creating administrative and judicial systems to maintain law and order among European merchants and native residents. Although the island had divided sovereignty, the Dutch established a legal system that operated on two levels. They applied Dutch laws to both Europeans and indigenous people, while also acknowledging and respecting native customs and traditions. During this era, there was a limited formalisation of traditional laws, including the Theswalamai for Tamils and modified versions for other ethnicities, highlighting the diverse legal legacy of Sri Lanka.

The study examines the intricate cohabitation of Roman-Dutch law with other legal systems, including as English law, Kandyan law, Muslim law, and Thesawalamai, which represent the broad socio-cultural makeup of Sri Lanka. The research emphasises the lasting impact of influential legal scholars such as Grotius and Voet, and the continuous development of the legal system in response to current needs and worldwide patterns. The incorporation of traditional rules into the wider legal system exemplifies the inclusiveness and flexibility that define Sri Lanka's legal progress, reflecting its abundant cultural and religious variety. This historical summary highlights the intricate and ever-changing nature of Sri Lanka's legal system, which has been influenced by centuries of colonial and post-colonial legal diversity.

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