General and Specific Legal Rules

29 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2004  

Paul G. Mahoney

University of Virginia School of Law

Chris William Sanchirico

University of Pennsylvania Law School; University of Pennsylvania Wharton School - Business Economics and Public Policy Department

Date Written: July 16, 2004

Abstract

Legal rules may be general (that is, applicable to a broad range of situations) or specific. Adopting a custom-tailored rule for a specific activity permits the regulator to make efficient use of information about the social costs and benefits of that activity. However, the rule maker typically relies on the regulated parties for such information. The regulated parties may attempt to influence the rule maker, producing rules that reflect their private interests. We show that in some cases limiting the rule maker to a single rule for multiple activities will moderate this influence and maximize welfare.

Keywords: legal rules, general versus specific rules, lobbying, rules versus standards, simple versus complex rules

JEL Classification: D72, H11, K00, K23, K20, K14, K4, L5

Suggested Citation

Mahoney, Paul G. and Sanchirico, Chris William, General and Specific Legal Rules (July 16, 2004). U of Penn, Inst for Law & Econ Research Paper 04-13. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=566201 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.566201

Paul G. Mahoney

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-924-7121 (Phone)
434-924-7536 (Fax)

Chris William Sanchirico (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-898-4220 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.upenn.edu/faculty/csanchir/

University of Pennsylvania Wharton School - Business Economics and Public Policy Department

3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6372
United States

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