A Theory of Rational Jurisprudence
Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law
University of Warwick - Faculty of Social Studies
October 15, 2010
Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-10-07
We develop a dynamic model of judge-made law, assuming judicial resources are scarce and the proper legal rule is unknown, but can be learned. Judges mechanically apply precedent in some cases to save resources. Other cases are fully investigated to reduce the chance of error. With positive probability, a rational court fails to treat like cases alike. The law converges to a mixture of efficient and inefficient rules, with the degree of inefficiency correlated with the ratio of decision to error costs. The size of each jurisprudential step depends on costs and the amount of uncertainty about the law.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 33
Keywords: Law and Economics, Incompleteness of Law, Judge-Made Law
JEL Classification: K10, K40
Date posted: October 26, 2010
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