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#33 - JRL 2009-125 - JRL Home
Date: Mon, 6 Jul 2009
Subject: 1,103 data points on Russia’s development as a market economy & rule of law society.
From: Robert Teets <rmtlaw@gmail.com>

In November, the Economist surveyed Russia and included a short rather negative appraisal of its legal system. Since then, and especially in connection with Barack Obama’s first visit here as US President, other major media assessments have been made and frequently also reported concerns.

However, impressions are one thing, while hard data is another. Kathryn Henley from the University of Wisconsin has been prolific and highly empirical inmore than a decade of careful studies. In a 2006 article, she found such generalized negative impressions to be endemic and for the most partunmerited when concrete data was collected and analyzed. Also in the academic and practitioner ­ as opposed to popular ­ domains, treatises like Bill Butler’s Russian Law (Oxford, now in its 3rdedition) and Hiroshi Oda’s Russian Commercial Law (Nijhoff, now in its 2nd edition) manifest searching compilation and analytical efforts presenting Russia legal system as coherent and workable.

My fifteen years of living and legal practice here have been more eclectic and much less academic but certainly it has and does rely on my experience with Russian laws, legal organs, judges, and lawyers as a system that works.

An unusually bright instance evidencing this salutary reality was manifest as I had my morning coffee and perused the Saturday edition, 04 July 2009, hard-copy of “Kommersant,” a business newspaper with national coverage plus distribution.This issue was 32 pages long.

All but four pages were formal, detailed legal notices pursuant to the publication requirements of the Russian Bankruptcy Code.In total there were 1,103 such notices regarding entities and property located across the breadth of the Russian Federation’s 11 time zones. They further reflected numerous different stages in the bankruptcy process e.g., at least one was an update on an earlier published notice.

What was most notable is that these notices and their publication are wholly consonant with how bankruptcy is intended to operate in civil and common law legal systems around the world. Thus they reflect the virtues of regularity, notoriety, generality, and fair procedure. Albeit only a snapshot in time, they speak to the normalcy of the business of law in contemporary Russia.

But is there no injustice here? Very much to the contrary, since all of our planet’s legal systems are human institutions, Russia likewise has to struggle with miscarriages of justice occurring through human error along with corruption and even worse. Yet it bears acknowledging that these 1,103 data points strongly demonstrate that quite considerable and significant portions of the Russian legal system do work.