The reform of the enterprise sector in the former socialist countries has been at the core of the economic reform programs, which were launched ten years ago, beginning in Poland and followed by other governments throughout the region. A key element of the enterprise reform package was privatisation. Depending on the country and the specific area of the law in question, this reform measure was preceded, accompanied, or followed by legal reforms. Legal reforms in the region have been comprehensive and affected not only areas immediately relevant for the enterprise sector, but the entire legal system ranging from constitutional, administrative, criminal and civil law to the organization and procedural rules of the court system. This paper focuses on laws that are immediately relevant for the restructuring and financing of enterprises, in particular the rights of shareholders as stipulated in company laws, securities regulations, and the right of creditors as holders of collateral and in bankruptcy. The paper investigates the patterns of legal change in these areas of the law and identifies key determinants of legal change. The method employed is a formalised comparison of legal change based on pre-defined legal indicators. A data base was constructed, which codes the development of shareholder and creditor rights from 1990 through 1998 for 24 transition economies (excluding only Serbia, Tadjikistan and Turkmenistan). The paper joins a growing literature that uses cross-country formalised legal indicators to investigate the interaction between legal and economic change using statistical tools. It introduces the data used and descriptively analyses the patterns of legal change that can be observed. A statistical analysis of the interaction between legal and economic change is addressed in a separate paper.