AMILIES AND THE
by Holger Spamann
(forthcoming, BYU Law Review 2009)
Abstract: This paper empirically documents the continued importance of the legalfamilies for the diffusion of formal legal materials from the core to the periphery in post-colonial times. This raises the possibility that substantive differences between countriesof different families around the world, such as those documented in the legal originsliterature, continue to be the result of separate diffusion processes rather than of intrinsicdifferences between common and civil law.Using the example of corporate and securities law, the paper documents thefrequent and often exclusive use of legal materials and models from the respective legalfamily’s core countries in treatises and law reform projects in 32 peripheral and semi- peripheral countries. The paper also shows that most authors of these treatises and projects were trained in the respective core countries. Data on the activities of nationallegal development and cooperation organizations, trade and investment flows, andstudent migration confirm the close legal family ties and provide some evidence of possible channels through which materials may continue to diffuse within their legalfamilies after decolonization.The diffusion of formal legal materials need not imply that the substantivedevelopment of law is affected by foreign influences, at least not in ways that inducesubstantive differences between periphery countries of different legal families. Varioustheories from comparative law, sociology, political science, and economics providereasons, however, why the content of law in the periphery might continue to beinfluenced by core country models of the same legal family, as the evidence of formaldiffusion suggests they are.JEL: K40, N40, O19, P50
Executive Director of the Program on Corporate Governance and Terence M. Considine Fellow in Law &Economics, Harvard Law School; email@example.com. The survey of legal materials in Part I.B of this paper was completed in the summer of 2006 and reflects the law in force and the materials available atthat time. For very helpful comments, I wish to thank Brian Cheffins, Daniel Chen, Stavros Gadinis,Martin Gelter, Yehonathan Givati, Bert Huang, Duncan Kennedy, Katerina Linos, Mark Ramseyer, IvanReidel, Mark Roe, Mathias Siems, conference participants at Copenhagen Business School and BrighamYoung Law School, and students in Duncan Kennedy’s class on the Globalization of Law in HistoricalPerspective. For financial support, I am grateful to the German Academic Exchange Service, the John M.Olin Center for Law, Economics and Business at Harvard Law School, and the Program on CorporateGovernance at Harvard Law School. Lastly, I wish to express my appreciation to the Harvard Law Libraryfor maintaining an extraordinary international collection, without which a project like this would not be possible, and to Martha Jenks for translating titles from Arabic.