Faculty Publications

Document Type


Publication Date



As an academic discipline within legal scholarship, law and economics which had been largely confined to the Anglo-American common-law world-has made considerable inroads in civil-law countries during the last decade of the twentieth century and first decade of the twenty-first century. Nonetheless, what has been a renewing force in legal scholarship in North America has fared less well in northwest Europe, or at least south of the Rio Grande and in southwest Europe. 2 Why has the economic approach to law been so successful in the Anglo-American common-law world, and less so in European and Latin American countries rooted in civil-law tradition? This paper suggests that a divergence in attitudes toward legal science among civil-law and common-law lawyers accounts for the comparative success of law and economics in both legal systems, an idea we will expand upon throughout this study. This paper suggests that if the economic approach to law is to have an impact within the legal and social environment of Latin American countries, law and economics must adapt to Latin America, instead of expecting Latin America to adapt to law and economics.


Nothing excites civilian lawyers and judges more than commissions for codification. Codification is more than an academic enterprise. Codification projects directly cut across the interface between law and life. ALACDE intends to harness this Latin American interest in codification to bring the economic approach to Latin America. A new-generation law and economics civil and commercial code will be a conscious project to restate Roman law's usefulness for coping with today's problems. Through law and economics, Roman law will renew itself. As a paradigmatic private-law system, Roman law is eminently amenable to a state-of-the-art fusion with law and economics. Sensitivity to what drives a particular legal culture is vital to a project meant for generating interest in law and economics among a new generation of Latin American lawyers and judges. We feel that the economic approach to law can only have an impact within the legal and social environment of Latin American countries if law and economics adapts to Latin America. Our suggested adaptation is the use of codification.