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Legal Transplants and Legal Culture


New laws are often inspired by foreign experiences. Despite widespread academic debates whether legal transplants are possible at all, they are common practice. However, the degree to which new laws are inspired by foreign examples can vary. A frequent and oftentimes justified criticism is that imported laws are not suited for a certain local context. This section provides information on experiences with and approaches to legal transplants.

Legal Culture and Judicial Reform-Topic Brief

This topic brief addresses the importance of legal culture for legal reform and development work, while focusing on the difficult problems of defining, measuring, and making causal arguments about the broad and conceptually messy factor "legal culture." Read More 

Comparing Legal Systems

Different legal systems are often classified according to legal "family:" common, civil, Islamic, and so forth. The accuracy of this kind of classification and its value is sharply questioned in the attached. Read More 

The Adversarial-Non-Adversarial Debate

Judiciaries that trace their origins to England are often termed "adversarial" while those modeled after Continental European systems are called "inquisitorial." Although there are real differences between the two, they are diminishing as reformers from one tradition borrow procedures from the other. This selection from a report by the Australian Law Reform Commission summarizes the historical differences between the two and the recent trend toward convergence in non-criminal cases. Read More

Law in Transition: Ten Years of Legal Reform

The 1990s have witnessed an enormous investment in legal reform efforts in transition and developing economies. Much of this assistance has involved the import of legal models from mature market economies. A growing body of literature offers some insights into the dynamics of legal transplantation and the conditions for success or failure. Transplants most often succeed when the foreign model is adapted to the legal traditions and institutions, and the social and economic realities, of the recipient system. Legal transplants have "taken" much less often than one might expect. The reason may be an over-emphasis on the law's content at the expense of sensitivity to local context in the adaptation and implementation process.


Economic Development, Legality, and the Transplant Effect

The paper attached below analyzes the determinants of effective legal institutions using data from 49 countries. It finds that the way the law was initially transplanted and received is a more important determinant of its acceptance and effectiveness than whether it sprang from any particular legal "family" or "tradition".



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