The New Role for Assurance Services in Global Commerce

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Journal of Corporation Law. Volume 33, Issue 2 (2008), p. 325-360.


In this Article we examine the rapid emergence and expansion of a private-sector compliance and enforcement infrastructure that we believe increasingly may be providing a substitute for public and legal regulatory infrastructure in global commerce, especially in developing countries where rule of law is weak and court systems are absent or inadequate. This infrastructure is provided by a proliferation of performance codes and standards, and a rapidly growing global army of privately trained and authorized inspectors and certifiers that we call the "third party assurance industry.” The growth in the third party assurance business has been phenomenal in the last decade. The business first developed to facilitate making and carrying out private contracts, but in recent years, assurance services are being deployed for purposes that are more appropriately seen as regulatory in nature. Third party assurance may thus be providing a new institutional structure through which private commercial exchange is being harnessed and regulated for essentially public purposes.


Reprinted in 49 Corp. Practice Commentator (2008)(Robert B. Thompson, ed.).

Reprinted in Global Governance (Axel Marx & JanWouters, eds.)(Edward Elgar Publishing, Ltd. 2017)

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