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Legal Institutions Meet Development Economics: Francophone West Africa Restructures and "Harmonizes" Its Business-Law Regime

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Abstract:

Ten years ago, 14 (now 16) countries in francophone West Africa signed a treaty that establishes a three-pronged structure. First, the new regime provides a method for adopting business laws (based on French law) that supersede existing national laws within the treaty jurisdiction. Second, it constructs a judicial system for review and application of business laws adopted by the new regime; this system is parallel to and outside of the existing national systems, except with respect to actual enforcement. Third, it establishes an educational program for current lawyers and law students within the jurisdiction.

Both classic and modern comparative-law analyses assert that (a) French law is less well adapted than is common law to the needs of developing countries, and (b) countries (such as those in francophone West Africa) which were unhealthy for their European colonialists have inherited extractive, anti-development institutions (including law).

Despite these impediments, the new regime’s articulated goal is to encourage foreign direct investment, including by multinationals; a study of the business laws adopted to-date indicates that these laws may well serve to encourage both foreign investment and domestic capital-formation. To that end, the quality of corporate governance provisions plays a significant role. This regime appears designed also to gain the support of elites; implementation of the new business laws indicates that it has succeeded to-date. Especially to the extent that the new structure does support domestic growth of capital, the structure is compatible with modern recommendations for transitional economies, as expressed by evolving trends in development economics. As a very good sign, nearby anglophone countries are expressing interest in joining the new regime of business laws; this regime could well be a viable model for the region.

The paper considers anecdotal and statistical evidence, and suggests how to improve and extend the new structure.
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Name: The Law and Society Association
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http://www.lawandsociety.org


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MLA Citation:

Dickerson, Claire Moore. "Legal Institutions Meet Development Economics: Francophone West Africa Restructures and "Harmonizes" Its Business-Law Regime" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, Renaissance Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, May 27, 2004 <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p116954_index.html>

APA Citation:

Dickerson, C. , 2004-05-27 "Legal Institutions Meet Development Economics: Francophone West Africa Restructures and "Harmonizes" Its Business-Law Regime" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, Renaissance Hotel, Chicago, Illinois <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p116954_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Ten years ago, 14 (now 16) countries in francophone West Africa signed a treaty that establishes a three-pronged structure. First, the new regime provides a method for adopting business laws (based on French law) that supersede existing national laws within the treaty jurisdiction. Second, it constructs a judicial system for review and application of business laws adopted by the new regime; this system is parallel to and outside of the existing national systems, except with respect to actual enforcement. Third, it establishes an educational program for current lawyers and law students within the jurisdiction.

Both classic and modern comparative-law analyses assert that (a) French law is less well adapted than is common law to the needs of developing countries, and (b) countries (such as those in francophone West Africa) which were unhealthy for their European colonialists have inherited extractive, anti-development institutions (including law).

Despite these impediments, the new regime’s articulated goal is to encourage foreign direct investment, including by multinationals; a study of the business laws adopted to-date indicates that these laws may well serve to encourage both foreign investment and domestic capital-formation. To that end, the quality of corporate governance provisions plays a significant role. This regime appears designed also to gain the support of elites; implementation of the new business laws indicates that it has succeeded to-date. Especially to the extent that the new structure does support domestic growth of capital, the structure is compatible with modern recommendations for transitional economies, as expressed by evolving trends in development economics. As a very good sign, nearby anglophone countries are expressing interest in joining the new regime of business laws; this regime could well be a viable model for the region.

The paper considers anecdotal and statistical evidence, and suggests how to improve and extend the new structure.

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