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An Economic Analysis of "Riding to Hounds": Pierson v. Post


  • Dhammika Dharmapala


Pierson v. Post , an 1805 New York case, concerns the ownership of a dead fox; Post had organized a fox hunt and was pursuing a fox, when Pierson appeared and killed the animal. The rule established by the court in this case (awarding ownership to Pierson) has proven to be highly influential. This article undertakes an economic analysis of the issues raised by the case. The incentives for the killing of foxes created by the court's rule and the alternative rule, giving property rights to Post, advocated in a vigorous dissent by Justice Livingston are analyzed. The consequences for social welfare are derived under various circumstances; the formal approach leads to a number of new insights. Finally, the implications of this analysis for contemporary issues in property law are explored through an application to the phenomenon of "cybersquatting" (involving the ownership of Internet domain names). Copyright 2002, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Dhammika Dharmapala, 2002. "An Economic Analysis of "Riding to Hounds": Pierson v. Post," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(1), pages 39-66, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:18:y:2002:i:1:p:39-66

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    Cited by:

    1. Lueck, Dean & Miceli, Thomas J., 2007. "Property Law," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
      • Dean Lueck & Thomas J. Miceli, 2004. "Property Law," Working papers 2004-04, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.

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