A Theory of Rational Jurisprudence

33 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2010

See all articles by Scott Baker

Scott Baker

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law

Claudio Mezzetti

University of Warwick - Faculty of Social Studies

Date Written: October 15, 2010

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Law and Economics, Incompleteness of Law, Judge-Made Law

JEL Classification: K10, K40

Suggested Citation

Baker, Scott A. and Mezzetti, Claudio, A Theory of Rational Jurisprudence (October 15, 2010). Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-10-07. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1697622 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1697622

Scott A. Baker (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

Claudio Mezzetti

University of Warwick - Faculty of Social Studies ( email )

United Kingdom

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