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Beliefs and Precedent: The Dynamics of Access to Justice

Author

Listed:
  • Giorgio Rampa

    () (Department of Economics and Management, University of Pavia)

  • Margherita Saraceno

    () (ACLE University of Amsterdam, and DEMS, University of Milano-Bicocca)

Abstract

The entire system of legal remedies rests on the decision of prospective plaintiffs to commence actions before a court. This study focuses on how both plaintiffs’ beliefs and legal precedent affect access to justice. In turn, actual accesses to the judiciary result in judicial decisions, and then in the establishment of further legal precedent that is able to affect the behaviour of new plaintiffs. This dynamic model shows that precedent works as a rectification tool with regard to biased beliefs. However, the strength of the rectification power significantly depends upon both the merit of the case and stickiness of subjective beliefs. The results highlight that although plaintiffs learn from precedent through a Bayesian process, access to justice does not always follow a desirable path. In fact, under some circumstances, meritorious causes of action hardly proceed through the court system, even as frivolous claims continue to flourish.

Suggested Citation

  • Giorgio Rampa & Margherita Saraceno, 2014. "Beliefs and Precedent: The Dynamics of Access to Justice," DEM Working Papers Series 084, University of Pavia, Department of Economics and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:pav:demwpp:084
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    File URL: http://economia.unipv.it/docs/dipeco/quad/ps/RePEc/pav/demwpp/DEMWP0084.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    access to justice; Bayesian learning process; lock-in; precedent;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • K41 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Litigation Process
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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