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An Economic Analysis of 'Riding to Hounds': Revisited

Posted: 29 Feb 2008  

Dhammika Dharmapala

University of Chicago Law School

Rohan Pitchford

University of Sydney Business School

Abstract

Pierson v. Post, an 1805 New York case, concerns the ownership of a dead fox; Post had organized a fox hunt and was pursuing a fox, when Pierson appeared and killed the animal. The rule established by the court in this case (awarding ownership to Pierson) has proven to be highly influential. This article undertakes an economic analysis of the issues raised by the case. The incentives for the killing of foxes created by the court's rule and the alternative rule, giving property rights to Post, advocated in a vigorous dissent by Justice Livingston are analyzed. The consequences for social welfare are derived under various circumstances; the formal approach leads to a number of new insights. Finally, the implications of this analysis for contemporary issues in property law are explored through an application to the phenomenon of cybersquatting (involving the ownership of Internet domain names).

Suggested Citation

Dharmapala, Dhammika and Pitchford, Rohan, An Economic Analysis of 'Riding to Hounds': Revisited. Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 39-66, 2002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=832284

Dhammika Dharmapala (Contact Author)

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Rohan Pitchford

University of Sydney Business School ( email )

Cnr. of Codrington and Rose Streets
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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