Lawmaking in Small Jurisdictions

45 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2002

See all articles by Kevin E. Davis

Kevin E. Davis

New York University School of Law

Date Written: September 2002


It is often argued that business laws in developing countries should generally be formulated as simple, bright-line rules. This argument is typically premised on the idea that the most significant difference between developing and developed countries lies in the competence of their lawmakers. This paper focuses on another difference: For the purposes of business law many (though not all) developing countries are relatively small, meaning that they witness a relatively small number of business disputes. Using an analytical framework originally developed in the legal literature concerning rules and standards it is shown that small jurisdictions should generally favour standards over rules and that those standards should not necessarily be particularly simple. Small jurisdictions should also find it relatively useful to transplant laws from other jurisdictions, especially large ones. These factors ought to be considered in the design and evaluation of legal institutions in many developing (and some developed) countries.

Keywords: law and development, developing countries, rules, standards, legal transplants

JEL Classification: O1, K00, K20

Suggested Citation

Davis, Kevin E., Lawmaking in Small Jurisdictions (September 2002). U Toronto Law and Economics Research Paper No. 02-05; U of Toronto, Public Law Research Paper No. 02-19. Available at SSRN: or

Kevin E. Davis (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
Vanderbilt Hall, Room 335
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
212-992-8843 (Phone)

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