Article Title

The International Rule of Law and Economic Development

Publication Title

Washington University Global Studies Law Review


The Rule of Law and economic development have long been recognized as being inter-related – a successful society has both. The question is how the two are related. Some scholars argue that common law is more supportive of economic development, while others reject this and argue that the distinctions between common law and civil law have no effect on economic development. This multidisciplinary article approaches the issue from a new contextual perspective that includes economics, philosophy, history, and law. It posits that while the concepts are similar, the common law conception of the Rule of Law (as opposed to the civilian, Rechtsstaat or L’État de Droit) is historically more supportive of economic development for understandable reasons.

This article does NOT argue that common law is ‘better’ than civil law. This article does show, however, that from Henry II to Brexit, the common law has traditionally been based on a different relationship between the individual and government: a non-instrumental relationship focused on problem-solving that encourages entrepreneurship and hence economic development.