The (Economic) Effects of Lay Participation in Courts – A Cross-Country Analysis
Legal philosophers like Montesquieu, Hegel and Tocqueville have argued that lay participation in judicial decision-making would have benefits reaching far beyond the realm of the legal system narrowly understood. From an economic point of view, lay participation in judicial decision-making can be interpreted as a renunciation of an additional division of labor, which is expected to cause foregone benefits in terms of the costs as well as the quality of judicial decision-making. In order to be justified, these foregone benefits need to be overcompensated by other – actually realized – benefits of at least the same magnitude. This paper discusses pros and cons of lay participation, presents a new database and tests some of the theoretically derived hypotheses empirically. The effects of lay participation on the judicial system, a number of governance variables but also on economic performance indicators are rather modest. A proxy representing historic experiences with any kind of lay participation is the single most robust variable.
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