The Law Reform Olympics: Measuring the Effects of Law Reform in Transition Economies

41 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2006

See all articles by Veronica L. Taylor

Veronica L. Taylor

School of Regulation & Global Governance (RegNet)

Date Written: January 15, 2005


This paper focuses on why 'indicators' and evaluative questions about the external form of commercial law in transition economies are now so much in vogue. I trace the objectives and methods of a four different evaluative projects sponsored by the World Bank and USAID that are designed to assess and ultimately to rank the legal systems of transition economies. One obvious impetus for the evaluative turn in technical legal assistance is that there are so many legal systems in 'transition' and so much money is being spent on them. Another is that global bureaucracies such as the World Bank, the IMF, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Asian Development Bank and the postindustrial states that sponsor them are predisposed to using evaluative techniques as forms of audit and control. The 'indicators' of commercial law now used in legal technical assistance projects are designed to allow ranking of legal systems according to their compliance with 'best-practice' models of commercial law in countries assumed to have well-established 'rule of law'. Significantly, the rankings are intended in many cases to guide allocative decision-making. This is the process that I call the 'law reform Olympics'.

Keywords: transition, legal reform, legal technical assistance, evaluation, rule of law

JEL Classification: F35, 01, 017, P2, P51

Suggested Citation

Taylor, Veronica L., The Law Reform Olympics: Measuring the Effects of Law Reform in Transition Economies (January 15, 2005). Available at SSRN: or

Veronica L. Taylor (Contact Author)

School of Regulation & Global Governance (RegNet) ( email )

Australian National University
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200

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