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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

Edward Peter Stringham

Trinity College; American Institute for Economic Research

Todd J. Zywicki

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

Date Written: November 5, 2010

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.

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

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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1703598 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1703598

Edward Stringham

Trinity College ( email )

Hartford, CT 06106
United States

American Institute for Economic Research ( email )

PO Box 1000
Great Barrington, MA 01230
United States

Todd Zywicki (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
703-993-8091 (Phone)
703-993-8088 (Fax)

PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

2048 Analysis Drive
Suite A
Bozeman, MT 59718
United States

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