NewYorkUniversity
LawReview
Current Issue

Volume 83, Number 6

December 2008

Is Private Securities Litigation Essential for the Development of China’s Stock Markets?

Marlon A. Layton

In recent years, financial economists have authored an influential series of articles that link strong minority shareholder protection—exemplified by private enforcement of securities regulations—to greater financial market development. Their findings, which suggest that transition economies seeking larger financial markets should reform their legal institutions so as to strengthen private enforcement, have practically become conventional wisdom, and provide support for those who argue that China needs to improve investors’ ability to sue listed companies in order to encourage growth in its financial markets. This Note argues, however, that in China’s current legal and political environment, various obstacles preclude private enforcement from playing a significant role in market regulation. A more viable strategy would be to strengthen public enforcement. It is more likely to be effective in China’s current environment, will improve investor protection, and has been shown to have positive effects on market development.

In recent years, financial economists have authored an influential series of articles that link strong minority shareholder protection—exemplified by private enforcement of securities regulations—to greater financial market development. Their findings, which suggest that transition economies seeking larger financial markets should reform their legal institutions so as to strengthen private enforcement, have practically become conventional wisdom, and provide support for those who argue that China needs to improve investors’ ability to sue listed companies in order to encourage growth in its financial markets. This Note argues, however, that in China’s current legal and political environment, various obstacles preclude private enforcement from playing a significant role in market regulation. A more viable strategy would be to strengthen public enforcement. It is more likely to be effective in China’s current environment, will improve investor protection, and has been shown to have positive effects on market development.