The Color of Law: An Economic Theory of Legal Boundaries
This paper presents an economic theory of property, tort, and contract law based on the goal of efficiently governing economic exchange relationships. In the theory, legal boundaries emerge endogenously in response to exogenous differences in the nature of the underlying transaction concerning the possible existence of unforeseen or non-contractible contingencies, and/or the desire of one of the parties to make non-salvageable investments prior to trade. The analysis asks whether, in this context, the transaction is best governed by property, tort, or contract principles. The conclusions are illustrated by a discussion of several cases that occupy the “boundaries” between the various areas.
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