The central thesis of Katharina Pistor’s book is that private law, in conjunction with its increasingly global outreach, serves the interests of the rich and enables ‘rule by law’ (p 205) rather than a ‘rule of the law’. The rules of contract law, corporate law, insolvency law, property law and private international law are of particular importance in this regard. According to the author, these areas of the law shape or ‘encode’ the domination of resources and capital in ways that increase wealth and inequality. The book seeks to understand, from a jurisprudential perspective, disruptive economic developments such as the Lehman crisis, rising inequality and the lagging of wages behind general economic development in the US and Western industrialised economies, and it makes proposals for legal policy. The English version, published in 2019, has been widely discussed and largely positively reviewed. This essay presents a decidedly critical perspective. It does not doubt important lines of thought in the book but questions central statements and hypotheses made in it.
Schaefer, Hans-Bernd, National Wealth and Private Poverty through Civil Law? A review of the book The Code of Capital by Katharina Pistor (July 16, 2021).