The Evolution of the Common Law and Efficiency

Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law, 2012

Illinois Program in Law, Behavior and Social Science Paper No. LBSS11-16

37 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2011 Last revised: 19 May 2011

See all articles by Nuno Garoupa

Nuno Garoupa

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

Carlos Gómez Ligüerre

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Department of Law

Date Written: April 7, 2011

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Garoupa, Nuno and Gómez Ligüerre, Carlos, The Evolution of the Common Law and Efficiency (April 7, 2011). Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law, 2012; Illinois Program in Law, Behavior and Social Science Paper No. LBSS11-16. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1805141 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1805141

Nuno Garoupa (Contact Author)

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

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Carlos Gómez Ligüerre

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Department of Law ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
Barcelona, 08005
Spain

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