The World Bank and Legal Technical Assistance: Initial Lessons

100 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Giovanni Ferri

Giovanni Ferri

LUMSA University

Tae Soo Kang

World Bank

In-June Kim

University of Seoul - Department of Economics

Date Written: January 31, 1995


Over the past several years, World Bank member countries have increasingly sought Bank assistance in improving and reforming their legal systems. This paper catalogs the scope and breadth of such assistance and outlines some lessons the Bank has learned. Countries with long and established legal traditions usually seek help only in specialized areas of law, and in strengthening the judiciary and establishing alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. In countries with lesser developed legal systems, legal technical assistance may range from policy advice to assistance in drafting legislation, introducing, implementing, and enforcing new laws and regulations, devising procedures and institutions that carry out new laws, designing public information campaigns, and training. Lessons the Bank's Legal Department has learned include: 1) each country must make a choice about the direction of its legal reform and must assign its own priorities to reform needs; 2) the Bank-financed assistance should fit the country's needs as well as the Bank's strategies. Countries usually benefit from diagnostic studies or sector analyses; 3) the Bank may not be involved in financing legal reform activities unrelated to economic development; 4) legal reform is complex and long-term. Except for urgently needed legislation, the most suitable lending instruments for legal technical assistance are usually those that disburse over a longer time or, alternatively, a series of lending operations; 5) the Bank's support for a stable, predictable business environment free of government arbitrariness may well include assistance to the judiciary of borrowing member countries; 6) countries are often reluctant to borrow for legal technical assistance. This is especially true for borrowing from the IBRD (rathen than IDA); 7) recipient governments must demonstrate a clear commitment to legal reform and take ownership of legal reform for legal technical assistance to bring about the desired results. Broad participation by members of local legal professions should be sought; 8) for legal technical assistance to succeed, there must be proper counterparts in the government implementing the assistance. Some countries may benefit from establishing legal reform units to coordinate economic and legal reform and to prevent duplication of legal reform activities; 9) for quality legal technical assistance at affordable rates, it is important to diversify the selection of advisors to include local lawyers as well as consultants from different legal systems. But the selection of consultants should be consistent with the direction of legal reform chosen by the country; 10) training activities adjusted to local conditions are essential if legal technical assistance is to have a lasting impact.

Keywords: Children and Youth, Legal Products, Banks & Banking Reform, Judicial System Reform, Legal Institutions of the Market Economy

Suggested Citation

Ferri, Giovanni and Kang, Tae Soo and Kim, In-June, The World Bank and Legal Technical Assistance: Initial Lessons (January 31, 1995). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 1414. Available at SSRN:

Giovanni Ferri (Contact Author)

LUMSA University ( email )

Via della Traspontina
Roma, Rome 00192


Tae Soo Kang

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

In-June Kim

University of Seoul - Department of Economics ( email )

Seoul, 130-743

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