Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Edited by Theodore Eisenberg and Giovanni B. Ramello
Chapter 1: The past, present and future of comparative law and economics
What is ‘comparative law and economics’? Despite the deceptively simple nature of this question, ‘comparative law and economics’ is not easy to define. The label was originally introduced two decades ago by European legal scholars. It referred mainly to the application of economic analysis to comparative law and, with a weaker nuance, to applying greater focus on the legal framework within comparative economics (Mattei, 1994; De Geest & van der Berg, 2004). However, the new ‘comparative law and economics’ demarcation did not attract much attention, so that its role remained marginal, even within comparative law, with only a small number of specific contributions produced in 20 years (Caterina, 2006). To date, there have been only a handful of published articles and a few books explicitly endorsing the label. This lack of uptake is likewise borne out by the anthology Comparative Law and Economics, compiled by Gerrit De Geest & Roger van Der Berg (2004) ten years ago, which is so far the only major collection of papers on the subject. It essentially gathers together articles – published over a 40-year time span in dispersed outlets, by authors coming from many disciplines – which can somehow be regarded as converging on ‘comparative law and economics’. On the whole, this anthology gives the feeling that most of the included articles – with a few exceptions – are ‘unconscious’ pieces of scholarship in comparative law and economics.