Law and Culture: A Theory of Comparative Variation in Bona Fide Purchase Rules

Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 35 (3):543-574 (2015)

A key question in comparative law is why different legal systems provide different legal solutions for the same problem. To answer this question, we use novel comparative evidence on how the conflict between the dispossessed original owner and the bona fide purchaser of a stolen good is resolved in different countries. This is the most primitive manifestation of a fundamental legal choice: the balance between the protection of the owner’s property rights and the enhancement of the buyer’s reliance on contracts. We test four prominent theories: functional equivalence, legal origins, political economics and cultural economics. We find that a culture of self-reliance is the key determinant of comparative variation in this area of law
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DOI 10.1093/ojls/gqv004
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