Saturday, 28 September 2013

Citations to Foreign Courts - Illegitimate and Super- fluous, or Unavoidable? Evidence from Europe

That's the title of a new paper, co-authored with Martin Gelter, available here. The abstract reads:
The theoretical arguments in favour and against citations to foreign courts have reached a high degree of sophistication. Yet, this debate is often based on merely anecdotal assumptions about the actual use of cross-citations. This article aims to fill this gap. It provides quantitative evidence from ten European supreme courts in order to assess the desirability of such cross-citations. In addition, it examines individual cases qualitatively, developing a taxonomy of cross-citations based on the degree to which courts engage with foreign law. Overall, this article high-lights the often superficial nature of cross-citations in the some courts; yet, it also concludes that, by and large, our analysis supports the use of cross-citations: it does not have the pernicious effects sometimes suggested by critics of the practices, such as undercutting national sovereignty and the legitimacy of the legal system. At best, cross-citations provide a source of inspiration how to interpret national law. At worst, they are largely ornamental and marginally help to make a particular policy argument appear more persuasive.
Actually, this paper is the third of a trilogy on cross-citations. Links to all three papers and the underlying dataset are available at our project website

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Interesting conference papers on Institutions and Economic Change (& reflections on further events)

I just return from a number of interesting events that I have attended in the last two weeks. The most recent one was on Institutions and Economic Change and all of the papers of this event are freely available online.
This practice seems very useful, though sometimes presenters may also want to make early drafts only available to the participants of an event. That’s actually how it was done at another event that I attended (and where I gave a presentation), a workshop on Corporate Governance at the Crossroads (schedule here). Of course, bigger events such as international conferences may be a bit more open, e.g., putting extended abstracts online – as done at another recent event, a conference on Max Weber and China: Culture, Law and Capitalism, materials available hereFinally, of course, some events are by invitation only, for example this week’s conference on Global Reform of Financial Regulation with only the general announcement .
What all four events had in common was that they had an impressive mix of scholars from different disciplines, in particular economics, sociology, political science and (even) law. This may occasionally lead to misunderstandings, but it is also highly stimulating, as noted earlier on this blog (though I’m also a bit tired now and happy that the following weeks will be less busy!).

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Ngrams on company law and related topics

A while ago I posted something on ‘using google books ngram view for legal research’ (btw: ngram is here). Of course, I'm not the only person who thought that ngram can offer some interesting insights: see, e.g, the paper on ngrams of great transformations. There would many things one could try: in the following, just a few ngrams on topics related to company law (click for larger views).

(1) blue: “company law”; red: “corporate law”; yellow “corporation law”. The first picture is for American English, the second one for British English.
i.e. in the US “corporate law” has replaced “corporation law”; in the UK “company law” most frequently used, but (due to US influence?) “corporate law” has also become popular.

(2) blue: “bourse”; red: “stock exchange”
Until mid 19th century “bourse” still more popular; also interesting to see that since early decades of 20th century more and more interest in stock markets.

(3) blue: “hedge funds”; read: “investment funds”; yellow: “corporate bonds”
With respect to investment funds and corporate bonds this also shows general rise in 20th century, but since late 1990s hedge funds become most ‘popular’.

(4) blue: “corporate social responsibility”; red: “independent directors”; yellow: “executive pay”; green: “stakeholder theory”
All four topics gained since the 1970s, in particular after 1995.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Do law books use ‘cliffhangers’?

The next witnesses called were witnesses concerned with the question that now followed – the obscure and terrible question, Who Poisoned Her?” (Wilkie Collins, The Law and the Lady, 1875).
So, that’s a cliffhanger – but, despite the title, this book is, of course, a crime novel, not a law book. So, I was wondering whether we do it too? (following up from posts on memorable first sentences and notable last lines in law journals)

I just looked at the twenty or so books I have on my desk (related to my project on comparative law), and found a few (not really many) good examples - here they are:
“In view of such theoretical findings of global relevance, we are now better prepared to reassess the Eurocentric nature of mainstream legal theory. The next chapter critiques traditional jurisprudential approaches, highlighting …” (Werner Menski, Comparative Law in a Global Context, 2006, p 128 in chapter on Legal Pluralism, followed by chapter on Comparative Jurisprudence).
i.e. the aim is to provide a linkage to the next chapter. An alternative approach would be to do this at the beginning of subsequent chapter.
“We can then talk about a universalizing western law … once we’ve brought the common law tradition into the discussion. Before the common law got under way, however, Islamic law began its accumulation of information.” (H Patrick Glenn, Legal Traditions of the World, 2004, p. 166 in chapter on A Civil Law Tradition, followed by  chapters on An Islamic Legal Tradition and A Common Law Tradition).
A modified linkage, namely, it explains more generally the structure of the book – also pointing towards factors that the respective traditions may have in common.
“Comparative law and economics adds an important element to the theory of legal formants: as we will see in the following chapter, it focuses on the competitive relationship among them and on its consequences.” (Ugo Mattei, Comparative Law and Economics, 1998, p. 99 in chapter on Distinction Between Common Law and Civil Law, followed by chapter on the Competitive Relationship Among Sources of Law).
Here the linkage is that the current chapter describes the units and the subsequent one addresses the relationship between them, ie going into further details – and possibly making the reader want to continue reading.
“The United States on the one hand, and France and Germany on the other, have emerged differently from the old world of mutilations, of hangings and beheadings, of law and high status; and it is in that old world that we must begin.” (James Q. Whitman, Harsh Justice, 2003, p. 95 in chapter on Continental Dignity and Mildness, followed by chapter on The Continental Abolition of Degradation)
Perhaps the one most akin to a novel-like proper cliffhanger, given that the book wants to present a ‘story’ of ‘harsh justice’ (in particular, the death penalty) in the US and in Europe.