European Journal of Law and Economics

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 541–564 | Cite as

Is harmonization of legal rules an appropriate target? Lessons from the global financial crisis

  • Helmut Wagner


This article deals critically with the call for a comprehensive harmonization of legal rules, against the background of the lessons from the recent financial crisis. Before coming to the topic of harmonization of legal rules, it first briefly deals with the question of why rules are necessary at all, and what the functions of rules are. Then it deals with the lessons from the recent financial crisis for the topic mentioned. The article conducts a kind of cost-benefit analysis of legal harmonization by looking at arguments in favor of and against uniform rules. It shows that not only the arguments in favor have increased after the recent financial crisis, but also the arguments against. It also shows that integration of global markets has not only increased the need for new uniform rules but also decreased the chances of their implementation; and that therefore today it is often better to improve the implementation of current rules instead of laying down new uniform rules.


Contract law Harmonisation Financial crisis 

JEL Classification

K12 D03 F15 



The author thanks Eva Matanovic and Hilke Turke for useful comments on a first draft of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HagenHagenGermany

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