Monday, September 21, 2009

The Fourth in the Series on the development of law and economics in Europe

Developments of Law and Economics in Spain

Fernando Gomez, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain

As has been pointed out by many observers of Law and Economics (L&E) as an intellectual enterprise, both from the inside and from the outside, the major difficulties for the growth of L&E have been encountered in settings in which traditional legal scholarship and education had deep roots. This is the case of Spain, where Law schools and legal scholarship are centuries-old, the legal professions –in private practice and in government service- are well-established, and the formalistic modes of approaching the legal system still are powerfully engrained in the internalized world vision of lawyers.

The progress made by Law and Economics in recent years is, nevertheless, remarkable, and proceeds along several lines. First, legal education. In the past decade or so, some of the most reputed Law Schools in Spain (Carlos III and Autónoma, in Madrid, UPF in Barcelona) implemented joint degrees in Law and Business Administration, Law and Economics and, to a lesser extent, Law and Political Science. These degrees were already in the market offered by private institutions, but the move by large public universities gave a definitive push towards joint degrees involving Law and other disciplines. With some exceptions, however, L&E as a distinctive intellectual discipline and approach to social issues related to the Law did not acquire a significant presence in those joint degrees, and remained largely confined to some graduate programmes, both at Law Schools and at Economics Departments, where the presence of L&E is already well-established. Moreover, the role of some of those graduate programmes in the promotion of L&E in Latin America, where many of the graduate students come from, should not be underestimated (see, for instance, the Law and Economics programme at Fundación Ortega y Gasset:
The recent ALACDE Meeting in Barcelona in June 2009, where L&E scholars from Latin America, Europe, and the US came together, is good proof of this influence.

Starting in the academic year 2009-2010 Law Schools all over Spain have started new curricula for their Law degrees, and again some of the leading Law schools have introduced L&E, and economically-oriented subjects in the core undergraduate legal education. This is a major impulse, although the major challenge still lies in the expansion of L&E methodology to understand and to teach the basic traditional legal courses (Constitutional Law, Property, Criminal Law, Contracts and so forth).

This concern about the actual use of L&E in legal scholarship produced by Spanish academics is one of the inspiring motivations behind InDret ( InDret is the first formally peer-reviewed legal journal in Spanish academic market, and is by now the most successful e-journal in Law in the entire Spanish-speaking world. Although the journal is generalist in scope, and ecumenic in approach, the number of articles that are squarely L&E papers, or at least L&E influenced, is very important, and growing, particularly in Corporate Law, Torts, Contracts, and Antitrust, but even in Criminal Law there has been relevant activity.

The other major L&E move in Spanish scholarship has been the creation in 2006 of the Spanish Law and Economics Association (AEDE, which serves as the first institutional expression of the Spanish L&E community, organizing sectorial conferences and sponsoring graduate courses in L&E, in Spain and abroad.

Most of those L&E initiatives are still young, but the wave of increased presence and relevance of L&E in the Spanish academic environment is already on its way.