Is Socialist Law Really Dead?

50 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2015 Last revised: 15 Apr 2016

See all articles by William Partlett

William Partlett

Melbourne Law School

Eric C. Ip

The University of Hong Kong

Date Written: September 14, 2015


This Article argues that the socialist legal system did not die in the late 1980s. Instead, the statist parts of the socialist legal system — drawn from Leninist ideology and the Russian legal tradition — have strongly influenced the law in the People’s Republic of China since the early 1980s. In fact, these Russo-Leninist transplants from the socialist legal system remain resilient in contemporary China. This Article will demonstrate how these Russo-Leninist transplants help create distinctive public law institutions and approaches in China that have been ignored by many scholars. By understanding these particular institutions and approaches, this Article will seek to better understand the possibilities of reforming China’s distinctive formal legal institutions as well as its public law system.

Keywords: comparative law

Suggested Citation

Partlett, William and Ip, Eric C., Is Socialist Law Really Dead? (September 14, 2015). 48 New York University Journal of International Law and Politics (JILP) 463 (2016), Available at SSRN:

William Partlett (Contact Author)

Melbourne Law School ( email )

185 Pelham St
Carlton VIC
+61 3 8344 8740 (Phone)


Eric C. Ip

The University of Hong Kong ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, Hong Kong

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