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Statute law or case law?

Author

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  • Anderlini, Luca
  • Felli, Leonardo
  • Riboni, A.

Abstract

We embed a simple contracting model with ex-ante investments in which there is scope for Court intervention in a full-blown open-ended dynamic setting. The underlying preferences of both Courts and contracting parties are fully forward looking and unbiased. Our point of departure is instead the observation that when Courts intervene in a contractual relationship they obviously do so at the ex-post stage. This introduces a natural tension between actual Court behavior and ex-ante optimal Court decisions. In a Case Law regime each Court is tempted to behave myopically because, ex-post, this affords current extra gains from trade. This temptation is traded off against the effect of its ruling, as a precedent, on future ones. We model the Statute Law regime in an extreme way: no discretion is left to the Courts which behave according to fixed rules. This solves the time-inconsistency problem afflicting the Case Law Courts, but is costly because of its lack of flexibility. We find that when the nature of the environment changes sufficiently often through time the Case Law regime is superior, while when the environment does not change very often the Statute Law regime dominates. Overall, our findings support the view that the Case Law regime is superior in fields in which innovation, and hence change, is central (e.g. finance), while the Codified Law regime is superior in more slow-changing ones (e.g. inheritance law).

Suggested Citation

  • Anderlini, Luca & Felli, Leonardo & Riboni, A., 2008. "Statute law or case law?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4433, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:4433
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/4433/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Nicola Gennaioli & Enrico Perotti, 2009. "Standardized enforcement: Access to justice vs contractual innovation," Economics Working Papers 1329, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jun 2012.
    2. Anderlini Luca & Felli Leonardo & Postlewaite Andrew, 2011. "Should Courts Always Enforce What Contracting Parties Write?," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 14-28, February.
    3. Hadfield, Gillian K., 2011. "The dynamic quality of law: The role of judicial incentives and legal human capital in the adaptation of law," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 79(1-2), pages 80-94, June.
    4. repec:dau:papers:123456789/7720 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli & Alessandro Riboni, 2014. "Why Stare Decisis?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(4), pages 726-738, October.
    6. Hadfield, Gillian K., 2008. "The levers of legal design: Institutional determinants of the quality of law," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 43-73, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Court Intervention; Statute Law; Case Law; Rigidity; Time-Inconsistency; Precedents.;

    JEL classification:

    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
    • C79 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Other
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • D89 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Other

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