CEPII, Recherche et Expertise sur l'economie mondiale
The Impact of Common Law on the Volume of Legal Services: An International Study

Enzo Dia
Jacques Melitz

 Points clés :
  • There is now a large and impressive literature showing the superiority of common law to civil law in defending property rights and promoting finance.
  • This advantage of common law comes at the expenses of greater legal services and litigation.
  • The associated legal expenses hold for common law countries as a group, not only for the United States with which those costs are often associated.
  • Since the extra legal costs of common law partly represent economic rent, common law is not necessarily economically superior to civil law.
  • Openness to trade, as such, also creates demand for legal services internationally.

 Résumé :
We show that the heavy use of legal services relative to output in the US is not a peculiarity of the country but applies to common law countries in general. It stems largely from better ability to contract and easier access to justice. Yet in close association, common law also opens significantly more room for rentseeking by lawyers than civil law. Thereby the costs could outweigh the benefits. Both real GDP per capita and openness emerge as further factors making room for lawyers.

 Mots-clés : Common Law | Civil Law | Rent-Seeking | Openness

 JEL : K15, K00
CEPII Working Paper
N°2021-08, November 2021

Texte intégral

BibTeX (with abstract),
plain text (with abstract),
RIS (with abstract)

 Domaines d'expertise

Commerce & Mondialisation