Rivalry and Superior Dispatch: An Analysis of Competing Courts in Medieval and Early Modern England
36 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2010 Last revised: 14 Nov 2010
Date Written: November 5, 2010
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.
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
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation