Judicial ReputationA Comparative Theory

Judicial ReputationA Comparative Theory

Nuno Garoupa and Tom Ginsburg

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780226290591

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Judges, as Alexander Hamilton famously noted, lack the purse or the sword, and so must rely on their reputation to secure compliance with their decisions. This book uses the economics of information to understand the organization of the judiciary. While there is no shortage of other accounts in comparative law trying to explain judicial organization, most of these draw very heavily on history, tradition, and culture, emphasizing distinctions like that between the common law and civil law. Our account, however, starts with the agency model that has become central to modern legal and economic analysis. We show that this very simple model can explain a good deal of the variation that we observe around the world. A key part of our analysis is to recognize that reputation is a quality of both the judiciary as a whole, but also of individual judges, and that different systems of organization encourage investment in different parts of reputation. While we do not suggest that one model is universaly superior to another, we do identify the inevitable tradeoffs involved. Our approach has the advantage of being able to account for change over time in response to broader changes in society, and so we speculate how judicial reputation has been affected by globalization.