The Evolution of the Common Law and Efficiency
Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law, 2012
37 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2011 Last revised: 19 May 2011
Date Written: April 7, 2011
The efficiency of the common law hypothesis has generated a large bulk of literature in the last decades. The main argument is that there is an implicit economic logic to the common law; the doctrines in common law provide a coherent and consistent system of incentives which induce efficient behavior.
We start by observing that if the common law is overall evolutionarily efficient, we are left with no explanation for the important doctrinal differences across common law jurisdictions. The observation is more striking if we keep in mind that presumably the de jure initial condition was the same, namely English law.
This paper assesses the efficiency of the common law hypothesis to detect the possible explanations for those main differences. If local determinants shape the common law differently, the literature needs to address these particularities that have been largely ignored. The consequence is that there is probably no single efficient outcome, thus undermining the "one-size-fits-all" theory of the legal origins literature.
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