European Journal of Law Reform

Article

Economic Inequality, Capitalism and Law

Imperfect Realization of Juridical Equality, the Right to Property and Freedom of Contract

Keywords capitalism, inequality, juridical, law, property
Authors Shabir Korotana
Author's information

359434 Shabir Korotana
Shabir Korotana is Senior Lecturer in Commercial Law at Brunel Law School, Brunel University London.
  • Abstract

      There is a general unease among the public across all jurisdictions about the progressive economic inequality that seems to define the new normal, and this phenomenon has been succinctly documented in numerous prominent studies. This trend of capitalism has been supported by the existing structures of the common law, albeit contrary to the aim and purpose of its original principles. The studies show that the modern capitalist societies display a persistent trend of increasing inequality, and this is summed up by the observation that modern capitalism generates progressive and intense economic inequality.
      Capitalism as a socio-economic system is structured and sustained by the law and by socio-economic systems of institutions. Capitalism is not only a social ordering; essentially, it is a legal ordering. At the heart of this legal ordering are private laws, and tort law, but the most important is contract law: freedom of contract. It is common law, similar to the private law in other jurisdictions, that is responsible for the extreme inequality because it allows the institutions of capitalism to function freely and without much control. The open-ended capitalism that allows accumulation of wealth without ceiling causes progressive inequality in society and consequently works against the very freedom and individualism that are supposed to be the ideals of common law and capitalism. Because of the existing institutions of capitalism and the legal construct, freedom, fairness and the intended progress of the individual were not properly realized; the understanding of the ideas and principles of freedom, individualism, juridical equality, the right to property and freedom of contract have been imperfectly realized. With rising inequality, it is this imperfect realization, particularly of juridical equality that is in question.

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