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The Standardization Of Law And Its Effect On Developing Economies

  • Katharina PISTOR
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    A widely used tool in law and development programmes is the supply of well-designed laws from the outside. This method of law development has now been embraced by international organizations as a way to improve the legal framework for global markets. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has endorsed attempts by various organizations to develop legal standards with special emphasis on corporate and financial institution laws. The common idea behind these attempts is that the supplied laws once incorporated into domestic legal systems will improve the existing legal framework, and thus further economic development. This paper takes issue with this concept of law development. It argues that for developing effective legal systems, the contents of the supplied laws is of only secondary importance to the process of law development and the compatibility of the new laws with pre-existing conditions, including existing legislation and legal institutions. Three factors account for this: (i) only a few rules are freestanding, i.e. can be fully understood and enforced without reference to other legal terms and concepts; (ii) law is a cognitive institution, and the application and enforcement of rules is determined by the perception of new rules by users and enforcers in the receiving country; and (iii) effective law enforcement is a function of the extent of voluntary compliance and available resources in a given country. A closer analysis of the rules whose standardization is currently proposed for building an international financial architecture shows that the implementation of these standards and their effectuation will require more efforts by the law receiving countries than underwriting them, if the goals of standardizing the law are to be achieved. The paper discusses the implications for countries wishing to attract foreign investments by adopting the new standards, and makes some proposals for creating more effective legal systems in the area of financial law.

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    File URL: http://www.unctad.org/en/Docs/pogdsmdpbg24d4.en.pdf
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    Paper provided by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in its series G-24 Discussion Papers with number 4.

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    Date of creation: 2000
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    Handle: RePEc:unc:g24pap:4
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    1. Haizhou Huang & Chenggang Xu, 2000. "Financial Institutions, Financial Contagion, and Financial Crises," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 316, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    2. Erik Berglof & Ernst-Ludwig von Thadden, 1999. "The Changing Corporate Governance Paradigm: Implications for Transition and Developing Countries," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 263, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    3. Katharina Pistor, 2000. "Patterns of legal change: shareholder and creditor rights in transition economies," Working Papers 49, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Office of the Chief Economist.
    4. Daniel Berkowitz & Karina Pistor & Jean-Francois Richard, 2001. "Economic Development, Legality, and the Transplant Effect," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 410, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    5. Roberta Romano, 1998. "Empowering Investors: A Market Approach to Securities Regulation," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm74, Yale School of Management.
    6. Levine, Ross, 1998. "The Legal Environment, Banks, and Long-Run Economic Growth," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 30(3), pages 596-613, August.
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