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Lessons from St. Petersburg: Commerce and Civil Law

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For more content, see Review of Socialist Law.

Through the prism of legal history, the author links the circulation of ideas in the eighteenth century between Russia and The Netherlands with Russian-Dutch collaboration at the end of the twentieth century: codification as a tool to provide legal certainly. The concern that the transition in the new Russia of the 1990s to new social and economic models would quickly give rise to legal uncertainty was one of the critical factors pushing for the rebirth of Russian civil law.

The collaboration between Russian and Dutch legal scholars and practitioners was grounded in legal reform processes—similar at one level and quite different at another. The author (for the last decade and one-half, a member of this collaborative effort) discusses the similarities and differences in the results flowing from these processes: fundamental principles and formalities being two examples. He also considers the balance between legal certainty and flexibility.

The reader is reminded, however, that this has been a two-way street; the case of recent reforms governing the judiciary in Russia is cited by the author as a part of the legal fabric from which The Netherlands might have more to learn from Russian than vice versa.

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