Abstract

The claim that the common law displays an economic logic is a centerpiece of the positive economic theory of law. A key question in this literature is whether this outcome is due to the conscious efforts of judges, or the result of invisible hand processes. This paper develops a model in which to two effects combine to determine the direction of legal change. The main conclusions are, first, that judicial bias can prevent the law from evolving toward efficiency if the fraction of judges biased against the efficient rule is large enough; and second, that precedent affects the rate of legal change but not its direction.

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