Politics in the Origins: The Making of Corporate Law in Nineteenth-Century Brazil
Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School at São Paulo; Stanford Law School; New York University School of Law
July 1, 2012
American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 60, No. 3, Summer 2012
The growing recognition of the role of law in financial and economic development has generated significant disagreement about what determines the structure and content of legal institutions in the first place. Legal traditions and local politics have emerged in the literature as the most likely sources of legal development, but the relationship between these two forces remains largely unexplored. This Article investigates the determinants of legal evolution by examining the development of corporate laws in Brazil since the early nineteenth century. Contrary to standard views, foreign commercial law models were neither forcefully imposed by Portuguese colonizers nor followed automatically due to language or cultural affinity with the French legal tradition. Brazilian lawmakers deliberately picked and chose among the laws of different civil and common law jurisdictions, and substantially altered their essence, in order to best fit the interests of incumbent elites. Politics mattered from the outset, while legal family considerations were not a significant constraint to early transplant decisions. This Article also suggests that selective legal transplants and local adaptations were one of the channels through which elites periodically recreated inefficient institutions over time.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 46
Date posted: July 22, 2011 ; Last revised: August 7, 2013
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