Even though Niklas Luhmann's general sociology of law has made a substantial impact upon socio-legal scholarship in the Anglophone world in recent years, his first book on the subject to be translated into English has received relatively little attention. The paper presents this as something of an anomaly by highlighting both the relative accessibility of the book and the way in which it has proved foundational for systems theoretical accounts of law in world society. In tracing the book's reception in both Britain and North America, the paper identifies the general problems of timing and communication the book faced. But it also considers whether the relatively humanist undertones of the book's focus on the development of law from the interaction of individuals proves unsettling to the now relatively more accepted concept of law as autopoiesis. The paper concludes, however, that it is this which should recommend the book to a contemporary audience, as offering a more nuanced understanding of Luhmann's sociology of law and the potential contained therein.