The Market for Contracts
50 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2006
Date Written: March 2007
Legal scholars have focused much attention on the incorporation puzzle - why major firms so heavily favor Delaware as their chartering state. The choice of Delaware incorporation is effectively a decision to select Delaware law to control issues of corporate governance and (less reliably) to select Delaware courts to adjudicate disputes. In this sense the incorporation decision is similar to any contract in which parties select a governing law or designate a forum. This paper considers whether theories about Delaware corporate law apply to the broader market for commercial contracts. After describing how the preconditions for such a market were established during the last half of the Twentieth Century (through the increased enforceability of choice-of-law and forum selection clauses), the paper looks at empirical evidence about major commercial contracts. Although Delaware dominates the market for incorporations, New York is the leading supplier of law and forum in commercial contracts. The paper explores several explanations for New York's popularity.
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