Saturday, 9 January 2016

Varieties of Legal Systems: Towards a New Global Taxonomy (revised paper now online)

I blogged about this paper a year ago (the title was still a bit different) and eventually it has been accepted for publication. The abstract reads:
Legal scholars, economists and other social scientist often refer to the idea that countries can be classified into a number of ‘legal families’ or ‘legal origins’. Yet, this research is unsatisfactory as regards the actual classifications of the legal systems of the world. It is the aim of this paper to fill this gap and to develop a more robust taxonomy of legal systems. This taxonomy is based on a new dataset of 156 countries that is subsequently analysed with tools of network analysis. Applying cluster optimisation, this paper finds that the world’s legal systems can be divided into four clusters. It displays those clusters in a map, akin to the Inglehart-Welzel cultural map. It is suggested that those findings have important implications, not only for our understanding of the legal world, but also for the feasibility of legal transplants and harmonisation.
And the map above is of course this map of clusters. The new version of the paper is available here.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Greetings from Singapore (with some thoughts on Ferguson’s Empire)

I’m enjoying my time in Singapore where I’m a visiting fellow at NUS in December. It’s always nice to stay at a place for a bit longer than a conference visit (which I did in Singapore two years ago) and learn about a country’s history, culture, laws (including the more unusual ones, cf also above) etc.
  I also used the occasion to read Ferguson’s Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World (2003). This book has been controversial but it reads very well and it does address in quite some detail the dark sides of the British empire. However, overall, the conclusion is more positive – phrased as the hypothetical that ‘it must be said that the experiment of running the world without the Empire cannot be adjudged and unqualified success’; in particular that ‘there is good evidence that the imposition of British-style institutions has tended to enhance a country’s economic prospects’ (with examples of British law, administration and government) (pp 369-371). 
  It reminds me a bit of my ‘overfitting legal transplants’; sometimes foreign ideas can be quite helpful – and indeed Singapore may be an example where the transplanted English law is regarded as something valuable.
  The question is, however, whether the positive aspects associated with the British colonial empire could not also have been achieved without the negative ones. Focussing on the rule of law, it can be seen that many countries ranked in ‘top 20’ (see eg here) have not been part of the British empire: eg, the Nordic countries but also South Korea and Japan. So, as always, making a general assessment about complex historical events is problematic since any causal linkages are not that clear.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Are there English-speaking countries that have a Civil Code? And are there non-English-speaking countries without a Civil Code?

Working on my taxonomy paper – one of the reviewers doesn’t like the variable on ‘English as one of the official languages’. Now, I’ll use whether countries have a ‘Civil Code’ (including countries with a Code of Obligations but not simply a contract act) as a proxy – based on the thinking that those two variables are fairly well correlated. But there are some differences, based on data for 156 countries:

Civil Code

So, which type of countries are behind the two exceptions?
  • The eight countries with a Civil Code but English language are some of the mixed legal systems, ie English is one of the official languages but there is distinct (sometimes even dominant) civil law influence, eg, Eritrea, Mauritius, Malta, Philippines.
  • The 18 countries without a Civil Code but also without English language are the Nordic countries, a minority of countries from the former Yugoslavia and the Middle East, some mixed legal systems (Israel, Sri Lanka), and some countries which are typically classified as common law one but which don’t have English as an official language any more (eg, Bangladesh, Cyprus, Nepal).

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Comparative Law – 2nd edition? – suggestions?

Just published a bit more than a year ago but I’m in early discussions about the second edition of my Comparative law book.  What shall I change? 

I have some plans – which I won’t disclose here…. but I’d also be very happy to get some comments and suggestions via email

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Academic staff lists of law school websites: what’s mentioned?

Sunday morning empirics - first the results:

(and n)
PhD / Dr mentioned
Ranks mentioned
Order by rank
US (10)
UK (10)
Australia (6)
Canada (3)
Singapore (1)
Hong Kong (1)

Method: I looked at the top 100 universities of the Times Higher ranking, then excluded the non-Anglophone universities and those without a law school, and capped the observations to ten per country (relevant for the UK and the US). Then, I checked the academic staff lists/faculty directories of the law school websites (ie the main list, not further sites which may provide additional information), and counted (i) whether doctorate titles were mentioned, (ii) whether ranks were fully mentioned (Professor, Associate Professor, Lecturer, etc; ie not just Prof or Dr), and (3) whether the website is ordered by those ranks.
   Now to the results of the table (with the >66% fields highlighted): interesting to see a US/UK split in terms of mentioning PhD titles with Singapore and Hong Kong, but not Australia and Canada, following the UK in mentioning them. Ranks are usually mentioned but some exceptions in the UK, Canada and Hong Kong – while in Australia and Singapore it may go further in terms of ordering the staff lists according to rank.
   The question remains: what explains those differences and how should it be done (ie should one emphasise or de-emphasise hierarchies and titles)?

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

What did I do this summer?

This blog post should have been written a while ago, but with the beginning of the academic year there is now no denying the fact that the summer is really over. So what did I do (work wise)? Some talks and event, in reverse order:
Looking at it, it doesn’t seem so much but kept me busy enough. Oh, and the picture is of course Carlos Drummond de Andrade and someone else in Rio.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

The (slight) positive relationship between teaching and research (based on NSS and REF data for law)

Ok, this is not my original idea but inspired by A. Afonso’s calculation for politics departments. Of course, the relationship between teaching and research — and the question of possible synergies or trade-offs — is also a general topic of research in higher education. And, with respect to law, a recent article by Ginsburg and Miles found that under some specifications research and teaching are positively correlated (based on data from the University of Chicago law school).
   My approach was as follows: I took the 66 law units for which data for both research (ie the REF 2014 data) and student satisfaction (ie the NSS 2015) are available. I started with the NSS data on ‘overall satisfaction’ — but the relation between those and the REF data turned out to be flat and insignificant. Thus, the following is based on the NSS teaching scores only (ie disregarding the other categories of the NSS). For the REF I started with the GPA (ie the quality score):

This shows only a slight positive correlation (0.076) which is not statistically significant.
    But there are also a number of other ways of presenting the REF data, eg, considering the number of *s, or just 3 and/or 4*s; and then scaled by the number of staff submitted or the eligible staff, or else just the absolute numbers. 
   The strongest correlation could be identified for the total number of 4*s - ie the 'research power' of law schools based on 4* assessments:

Here the correlation is 0.2534 and significant at the 5 % level. Note that this result, based on a research power indicator, combines two effects as the total number of 4*s is both dependent on the size of the law school and their respective research quality. In the chart it can be seen that the correlation is mainly due to (i) the law schools with the lowest NSS scores also having few 4* assessments and (ii) the law schools with most 4* assessments usually having above average NSS scores.
    Caveat: there are of course good reasons to be sceptical about the REF and the NSS data; but still, as both are based on subjective assessments, there may be some justification in comparing the corresponding data points.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Publications update (on themes of company and comparative law)

Publishers don’t seem to do summer breaks as in the last few weeks a couple of my articles and book chapters have been published ... So here they are:

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Convergence, Legal Origins, and Transplants in Comparative Corporate Law: A Case-Based and Quantitative Analysis (Cabrelli & Siems)

Just published in American Journal of Comparative Law, vol. 63 (2015), pp. 109-153 (SSRN version available here; related to our book on Comparative Company Law). The abstract reads:
In this Article, we intend to fill a gap in the comparative law literature by adopting a case-based approach to comparative corporate law that highlights the important dimension of specific cases in corporate law matters and how identifiable, but limited issues arising from such case disputes are resolved in different jurisdictions. Our study is based on ten cases used in a wider research project and their solutions in ten countries: eight European countries, the United States, and Japan. We assess the solutions to these cases using quantitative methods of network and cluster analysis. We also seek to enquire whether conceptual differences exist between countries in terms of the source, form, style, and substance of the legal rules which comprise their corporate laws.
   The findings of this assessment are used to evaluate arguments developed in the academic comparative company literature which posit that the existence of fundamental differences in the protection of shareholders across countries reduces the scope for convergence in corporate law systems. The case-based evaluation is also applied to make a contribution towards other influential theories in comparative law, particularly the “legal origins” theorem and the “legal transplants” debate. For example, while we find some evidence of legal transplants, we will show that the notion of legal origins has only limited value in today’s corporate law. Furthermore, the research has a public policy dimension since the existence or absence of differences matters for the question of whether formal harmonization of corporate law in the EU, or further afield, is necessary, desirable, or at all possible.