Towards a North American Law: A Literature Review

48 Pages Posted: 4 May 2009 Last revised: 6 May 2009

See all articles by Matthew T. Simpson

Matthew T. Simpson

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

Date Written: July 3, 2006


In the interest of sketching the parameters of a North American Law that defines the way in which firms do business in North America and possibly becomes a framework for harmonizing other sets of laws - from transactions and corporate law through human resources, human rights, and environmental laws - this review of literature will begin with a discussion of those factors that encourage progress toward that goal as well as those factors that impede progress. Part Two will begin with a definition of the term harmonization as it is to be used in this context. Part Three discusses historical attempts to harmonize legal regimes in the western hemisphere. Following this, the review in Part Four turns to those factors that act as impediments to the development of North American law, including the civil/common law dichotomy present in the member nations legal traditions, and the role federalism plays in shaping those institutions. Next, Part Five will review those factors that encourage progression towards a North American Law, including the relative success of other regional blocs such as the African Economic Community and the European Union, the role the North American Free Trade Agreement plays in the harmonization of laws amongst the three countries, and finally the role of technology and the rise of transnational legal mobility in elevating international legal awareness and transnational communication. Part Six will then consider several areas of potential legal harmonization in North America and any efforts to achieve such harmonization already in force. Finally literature directly touching on the issue of North American Legal harmonization will be reviewed highlighting any specific North American institutions that are called for in Part Seven. Part Eight will conclude with a centering of the work on North American legal harmonization in the greater context of a movement toward a North American Community, and emphasize the imports of legal harmonization to that end.

This work is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather serves to provide a stepping off point for future analysis on moving towards a North American Law.

Keywords: NAFTA, North America, harmonization, legal harmonization, Law, civil law, common law, insolvency, criminal, corporate, federalism, tradition, European Union, African Economic Community, transnational legal mobility

Suggested Citation

Simpson, Matthew T., Towards a North American Law: A Literature Review (July 3, 2006). Available at SSRN: or

Matthew T. Simpson (Contact Author)

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. ( email )

Washington, DC
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics