Hague Journal on the Rule of Law

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 317–339 | Cite as

Judicial Independence Under Authoritarian Rule: An Institutional Approach to the Legal Tradition of the West

  • Hans Petter GraverEmail author


The autonomy of legal institutions is put on the most severe test when they are under attack by other organs of the state. The article discusses the Western legal tradition from an institutional perspective and the concepts of ‘institutions’, ‘path dependence’ and ‘rule of law’. Under this perspective, legal institutions have an autonomous development with characteristics that must be explained by their evolutionary origins. The article seeks to demonstrate that institutional theory deserves closer attention when studying law and political power and to place more the refined notions of the Western legal tradition and the Rule of law from legal research into the theoretical approach of institutional theory. Based on the example of judicial independence in Nazi Germany it seeks to test the explanatory power of institutional theory to legal phenomena.



I would like to thank the Institute for Advanced Study, University of Durham, England for providing me with an excellent research environment for much of the time spent researching this article. I would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers for helpful criticism and comments.


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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Press 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Private LawUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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