DP8478 | Standardized Enforcement: Access to Justice vs Contractual Innovation

Publication Date

01/07/2011

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Abstract

We model the different ways in which precedents and contract standardization shape the joint development of markets and the law. In a setting where more resourceful parties can distort contract enforcement, we find that the introduction of standard contracts reduces enforcement distortions relative to precedents, exerting two effects: i) it statically expands the volume of trade, but ii) it hampers commercial and legal innovation by crowding out the use of innovative contracts. We offer a rationale for the large scale commercial codification that occurred in Common Law systems in the XIX century during a period of booming commerce and long distance trade.