News

World Justice Project: Rule of Law Index

March 24, 2014
Categories: Anti-corruption, Bribery, Corruption, IP Protection

Wherever you do business in the world, or are considering it, a recently published by the World Justice Project likely has insights for you.

The 2014 WJP Rule of Law Index, which launched this month, is a granular look at how legal practices function at the ground level around the globe.

The data and graphics-rich report is written for a broad audience — policy makers, civil society and businesses leaders, academics and others — and serves as a tool for improving rule of law, and for operating in vastly different legal environments around the world.

The report measures the rule of law across 99 countries and jurisdictions, looking at 47 indicators in eight areas — constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, criminal justice and informal justice.

The Index draws on a survey of more than 100,000 households and 2,400 experts to reach its findings, including global, regional and country trends.

On a global level, one of the report’s findings is a marked decline in criminal justice in the past year. Twenty countries showed a significant deterioration in this area from the year before, it says, and none of the 99 countries in the index showed significant improvement.

From a business perspective, the practical information is more likely to come from the details in the data.

The section on regulatory enforcement, for instance, looks at “activities that are regulated in all jurisdictions, such as environmental standards, public health, workplace safety regulations, and permits and licenses,” and “whether the government respects the property rights of people and corporations; refrains from the illegal seizure of private property without adequate compensation; and provides adequate compensation when property is legally expropriated.”

On that front, Norway ranks first and Venezuela last of the 99 countries in the ranking. The United States logs in at 22, behind much of Europe and the wealthier jurisdictions in the Asia Pacific region, including New Zealand (5), Australia (7), Singapore (8), Japan (12), Hong Kong SAR (15) and South Korea (17). Indeed, these jurisdictions in Asia rank in the top 20 for overall rule of law whereas middle-income countries in the region do not show the same strengths. The BRIC countries, attractive as they are as destinations for business, lagged on rule of law. Brazil ranked 42 on the index, while India was 66, China ranked at 76 and Russia at 80.