Wealth Transfer Laws in 153 Jurisdictions: An Empirical Comparative Law Approach

Author:Yun-chien Chang
Position:Research Professor & Director of Center for Empirical Legal Studies, Institutum Iurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica, Taiwan. J.S.D.
Pages:1915-1944
SUMMARY

Wealth transfer doctrines have never before been compared on a large scale. Using a unique hand-coded data set on property doctrines that I compiled over five years, this Article describes the following doctrines in 153 jurisdictions: whether the jurisdiction recognizes any future interest; whether real estate registration is absolute (public faith principle); whether in sales of real estate... (see full summary)

 
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1915
Wealth Transfer Laws in 153 Jurisdictions:
An Empirical Comparative Law Approach
Yun-chien Chang*
ABSTRACT: Wealth trans fer doctrines have never before been com pared on
a large scale. Using a unique hand-coded data set on property doctrines that
I compiled over five years, this Article describes the fol lowing doctrines in 153
jurisdictions: whether the jurisdictio n recognizes any future interest; whether
real estate registration is absolute (public faith principle); whether in sales of
real estate registration is necessa ry, or create opposability to third parties;
whether a real agreement is conc eptually separate from the sale co ntract and
whether an invalid sale contract will al ways cause the invalidity of the real
agreement (non-causa principle); and w hether delivery or certain intentions
are required to transfer ownership of perso nal properties or the sale contract
itself is sufficient. Further us ing clustering analysis, this Arti cle categorizes
the wealth transfer doctrines of the 153 jurisdict ions into eight groups,
finding that China, Russia, and Sco tland are the outliers, and English,
French, and German influences on many jurisdictions are obvious.
* Research Professor & Director of Center for Empirical Legal Studies, Institutum
Iurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica, Taiwan. J.S.D., New York University School of Law. Email:
kleiber@sinica.edu.tw. I would like to thank my Research Assistants (“RAs”) over five years from
Taiwan, Peru, New Zealand, India, Israel, Colombia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Uganda,
Turkey, France, and South Africa. They are Winnie Awino, Harika Bakaraju, Gahli B erger,
Paloma Carreno, Jung-Han Chang, Danlin Chang, Gina Chavarry, Chih-jui Chen, Tzu-Yuan Chu,
Yichen Chu, Huseyin Guzeler, Melanie Lee, Ingrid Lee, Christina Lee, Calvin Lim, Tin-jun Liu,
Hannah Musgrave, Maria Oluyeju, Anne-Line Schwint, and Daniella Weinrauch. Academia Sinica
Career Development Award (106-H02) pro vided the main funding for this project. The librarians
at the University of Chicago Law School and Cornell Law School provided great help in
identifying foreign law materials when I was a visitor there. Some of the aforementioned RAs are
Masters of Law (“LLM”) students at Chicago and Cornell. The University of Chicago Law School
also covered the expenses for the LLM RAs. The Law Library at University of Iowa College of Law
also provided me with foreign legal materials when I was the library’s Bonfield Fellow for 2016.
Professor XU Guodong, though we have never met in person, allowed me to Xerox his civil code
collections. Professor Nuno G aroupa helped code the property laws of former Por tugal colonies
and co-authored with me several other papers using the larger data set. Many other people have
helped in making this giganti c coding project possible. I am grate ful to all of them. For comments
on prior manuscripts, I am thankful for hel pful comments from Aurore Chaigneau, Chung-Wu
Chen, Pierre Crocq, Thomas Gallanis, John Reitz, and Tzung-Mou Wu.
1916 IOWA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 103:1915
I. INTRODUCTION ......................................................................... 1916
II. UNIQUE DATA ON PROPERTY LAW IN 153 JURISDICTIONS .......... 1918
III. DESCRIPTIONS OF AND REFLECTION ON WEALTH
TRANSFER DOCTRINES AROUND THE WORLD ............................ 1920
A. FUTURE INTERESTS .............................................................. 1920
B. TITLE TRANSFER RULE FOR REAL PROPERTIES ....................... 1925
C. PUBLIC FAITH PRINCIPLE ..................................................... 1929
D. TITLE TRANSFER RULES FOR PERSONAL PROPERTIES .............. 1932
IV. LEGAL FAMILIES REGARDING WEALTH TRANSFER LAWS ............ 1941
V. CONCLUSION ............................................................................ 1944
I. INTRODUCTION
Traditional comparative law research has been conducted on a small
scale. Scholars choose their country of interest and compare it with one or a
few other countries. The endeavor is usually normativedrawing on other
countries’ experience to justify adopting or giving up certain legal doctrines
or interpretations. Comparative law is sometimes positive but seldom
empirical.1 A notable exception is the law and finance literature started by
Rafael La Porta, Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes, Andrei Shleifer, and Robert
Visney (collectively called LLSV), which uses data from dozens of countries to
qualitatively identify patterns of the effects of laws on economic
performances.2 Yet LLSV’s finding that the legal origins (common versus civil
law) matter has been heavily criticized, partly due to its casual classification of
1. For an overview of empirical comparative law works and reflection on the methodology,
see generally Holger Spamann, Empirical Compa rative Law, 11 ANN. REV. L. & SOC. SCI. 131 (2015);
Holger Spamann, Large-Sample, Quantitative Research Designs for Comparative Law?, 57 AM. J. COMP.
L. 797 (2009).
Most empirical comparative law scholarship is about constitutional law. See, e.g., Jerg Gutmann et
al., Determinants of Constitutionally Safeguarded Judicial Review: Insights Based on a New Indicator,
in EMPIRICAL LEGAL ANALYSIS: ASSESSING THE PERFORMANCE OF LEGAL INSTITUTIONS 216, 21654
(Yun-chien Chang ed., 2014); Tom Ginsburg et al., When to Overthrow Your Government: The Right
to Resist in the World’s Constitutions, 60 UCLA L. REV. 1184, 121728 (2013); Tom Ginsburg & Mila
Versteeg, Why Do Countries Adopt Constitutional Review?, 30 J.L. ECON. & ORG. 587, 597613
(2013); David S. Law & Mila Versteeg, The Declining Influence of the United States Constitution,
87 N.Y.U. L. REV. 762, 76870 (2012); David S. Law & Mila Versteeg, Sham Constitutions, 101 CAL.
L. REV. 863, 88692 (2013).
2. See generally Rafael La Porta et al., The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins, 46 J. ECON.
LITERATURE 285 (2008) [hereinafter LLSV, Legal Origins] (rev iewing follow-up studies and
responding to critiques); Rafael La Porta et al., Law and Finance, 106 J. POL. ECON. 1113 (1998)
[hereinafter LLSV, Law and Finance] (using empirical data to examine how the legal origins of
49 countries impact their economic growth).

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