Is Bigger Always Better? On Optimal Panel Size, with Evidence from the Supreme Court of Canada

30 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2008 Last revised: 14 May 2011

Benjamin Alarie

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Andrew James Green

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Edward Iacobucci

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Date Written: May 11, 2011

Abstract

The US Supreme Court typically sits en banc. Historically, the House of Lords in the UK sat in panels of five. Its new successor, the UK Supreme Court, now sits in panels of five, seven or nine justices. A similar practice has long been in place at the Supreme Court of Canada, which routinely sits in panels of five, seven, or nine justices. We develop a formal model of the optimal choice of panel size. The model suggests that in the presence of scarce judicial resources, panel sizes can be deliberately adjusted to improve allocational eciency. Using data from appeals heard by the Supreme Court of Canada from 1984-2005, we uncover evidence that the Court may be using varied panel sizes in a manner consistent with the predictions of our model.

Suggested Citation

Alarie, Benjamin and Green, Andrew James and Iacobucci, Edward, Is Bigger Always Better? On Optimal Panel Size, with Evidence from the Supreme Court of Canada (May 11, 2011). U Toronto, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-15. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1152322 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1152322

Benjamin Alarie

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

Jackman Law Building
78 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-946-8205 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.utoronto.ca/faculty-staff/full-time-faculty/benjamin-alarie

Andrew James Green (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada

Edward M. Iacobucci

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-2694 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

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