Rivalry and Superior Dispatch: An Analysis of Competing Courts in Medieval and Early Modern England
Edward Peter Stringham
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
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
Date posted: November 7, 2010 ; Last revised: November 14, 2010
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