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Rivalry and Superior Dispatch: An Analysis of Competing Courts in Medieval and Early Modern England


Edward Peter Stringham


Fayetteville State University - School of Business and Economics; Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business

Todd J. Zywicki


George Mason University School of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

November 5, 2010

George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 10-57

Abstract:     
In most areas, economists look to competition to align incentives, but not so with courts. Many believe that competition enables plaintiff forum shopping, but Adam Smith praised rivalry among courts. This article describes the courts when the common law developed. In many areas of law, courts were monopolized and imposed decisions on unwilling participants. In other areas, however, large degrees of competition and consent were present. In many areas, local, hundred, manorial, county, ecclesiastical, law merchant, chancery, and common law courts competed for customers. When parties had a choice, courts needed to provide a forum that was ex ante value maximizing.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 36

Keywords: bureaucracy, Charles Rowley, de jure limitations, de facto, defendant, efficiency of common law, exchequer, Hayek, Hobbes, James Buchanan, King’s Bench, legal history, liberty, Locke, monopolization of law, Norman invasion, plaintiff, pleas, Priest, Richard Posner, Rubin, venue, Wealth of Nations

JEL Classification: K40, N43, P48

working papers series


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Date posted: November 7, 2010 ; Last revised: November 14, 2010

Suggested Citation

Stringham, Edward Peter and Zywicki, Todd J., Rivalry and Superior Dispatch: An Analysis of Competing Courts in Medieval and Early Modern England (November 5, 2010). George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 10-57. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1703598 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1703598

Contact Information

Edward Peter Stringham
Fayetteville State University - School of Business and Economics ( email )
Fayetteville, NC 28301
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.uncfsu.edu/sbe/HackleyChair/Stringham_Bio.htm
Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business ( email )
Lubbock, TX 79409
United States
Todd J. Zywicki (Contact Author)
George Mason University School of Law ( email )
3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
703-993-8091 (Phone)
703-993-8088 (Fax)

George Mason Law School Logo

PERC - Property and Environment Research Center
2048 Analysis Drive
Suite A
Bozeman, MT 59718
United States

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