Practitioners of law and economics claim that efficiency is the best or even the only goal that the law should pursue – Discuss.

Practitioners of law and economics claim that efficiency is the best or even the only goal that the law should pursue – Discuss.

INTRODUCTION

Law is the skeleton of our society[1]. It controls what we do, when we do it and how we do it. If we choose to break this law then we are punished. An ordered society can not exist without some sort of legal system, even if it is just one simple rule. If there was no system of law to control how people operate their lives then there would not be a society to live in. People would be free to make decisions based solely on their principles, they would be free to steal, murder, damage, rape, trespass and terrorize what or whom ever they wanted when it suited them, and nothing would be done about. Therefore it would be disastrous if not impossible to base a society solely on such principles.

There are different categories of law, each with its own priorities. But by and large, law is there to maintain the status quo, to protect property, vested rights, and established relationships.

If people knew they would not be punished for their actions then nothing would stop them fore filling whatever they wished to do. People would in turn, look for revenge and the cycle would continue because they knew that they could get away with absolutely anything they deemed possible. Eventually there would be no society left for a system of law to control[2].

If there were no rules for people to live by then even the simplest thing, like disposing of waste could affect the entire world. If this is not done properly then diseases could spread and eventually wipe out the human race. The water supplies would not be clean because if there were no rules, people would not have to work because they could steal and would not need money which would mean no one would work to keep the water clean. No one would help us if we were ill and no one would help us if we were in trouble. In the end there would be a break down in society and people will just be surviving the best they can, it would be like a war zone, everyone for them selves.

A system of rules is needed in society to regulate relationships between people with conflicting interests, for example, employers and employees, landlord and tenants and neighbors. A legal system is the only procedure which can ensure that human rights are respected[3].

Without laws our society would not be able to function effectively. Rape, murder and theft would become everyday occurrences which mean that children would grow up only knowing this and to them it would be deemed normal, which is not what we want for our future generations, this is why law is so important to society, to ensure the safety of future generations.

I believe that laws are a good thing because without them there would be no control, however like most things laws are also subject to abuse by corrupt individuals who are in a position to do so.

Economic Efficiency in Law and Economics explains improved version of benefit-cost analysis, which is used to assess the anticipated economic effects of a change, such as new legislation, a precedent-breaking court ruling, or the breakup of a monopoly.[4] Predicted gains and losses to parties are assessed to determine whether a proposed change will result in a net overall gain or loss to society. If a net gain results, the economic system becomes more “efficient.”[5]

People tend to value rights or possessions they already have more than rights or assets they contemplate acquiring. A purely commercial asset, defined as one desired only for the income it can generate, is an exception to the rule and is valued equally whether one owns it or not.[6] Thus, in estimating the effects of a transfer of a noncommercial asset, the analyst should recognize that the asset’s value to the old owner may differ from its value to the new owner.

The subjective cost to the old owner in giving up the asset may exceed the subjective gain experienced by the new owner. Furthermore, perceived ownership–whether one believes one owns an asset or not–as opposed to objective ownership is relevant to how one values the property or right. Perceived ownership should be entailed in benefit-cost analysis[7].

The preferences of the general public, as well as those immediately affected by transactions, should serve as a basis of some of the costs and benefits to be counted. Values to be counted in in terms of the amounts those parties would be willing to pay to acquire a right or possession, and amounts that parties would be willing to accept in exchange for a right or possession.

After briefly reviewing the history of benefit-cost analysis and revealing new form of it, societal changes–such as changes in technology, institutions, or public sentiment–can make previously efficient rules inefficient in the sense that a more efficient set of rules becomes possible. Finally, the common law naturally arises in a manner such that it fosters economic efficiency[8].

The law tends to provide limitations and controls. It is obvious that professionals already in the system must understand the law. Students preparing for modem-day law enforcement, corrections, or security employment, must also be well grounded in the fundamentals of criminal law. This foundation provides the framework within which each must function.

Historically, our first criminal laws came into being as a result of society’s struggle to control those persons whose antisocial activity was destructive of a desirable environment in which people wanted to live. Safety, stability, and integrity are necessary for the healthy growth and benefit of the community as a whole[9].

We may think of crime as a violation of the basic controls of society, and we may think of criminal law as necessary to deter misconduct and otherwise deal with those individuals who would disrupt society. Criminal law is an instrument of social control. Without laws, criminal or civil, we would have no protection from the predatory whims of others.

In order to gain the protection of society’s laws, the law-abiding members must be willing to give up a small part of their freedom to do just as they wish at all times. This is especially true when one individual’s activities interfere with the rights of others. With the above in mind, we may define crime as social conduct considered harmful to individuals and to our institutions and therefore made punishable by law.

Wherever people have lived together, they have found it necessary to develop rules of conduct. They need rules for the settlement of disputes. They also need rules for the organization of their governments. Law is the set of rules that the government enforces through its police, its courts and its other agencies. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee demonstrates the importance of law in our communities, especially criminal law[10].

Law makes it possible for men to live together peaceably in a community. If there were no law, every man could do just as he pleased, with law; the people in a community know that the government will enforce rules that will make it possible for them to live together without conflict. The philosophy or science of law is called jurisprudence.

There are two main kinds of laws. Civil or public law helps settle disputes between people or companies. Criminal law deals with crimes, or actions that cause serious harm to an individual or group.

Public law is the body of rules in which the government is directly involved. Public law regulates the relationships between individuals and the government. One group of rules in public law defines and limits the powers of the government. The part of public law most familiar to many persons is criminal law, which is the body of rules that we are commanded to obey. The government may fine those who do not obey, send them to jail, or even execute them.

A number of smaller groups of rules also come under the general heading of public law. International law is concerned with agreements among nations, problems of boundaries, and other questions arising from the relationships of one country with another. Constitutional law deals with the problems that have arisen about various clauses in the United States Constitution. Problems in constitutional law include the organization of the government and the guarantees of our liberties. Administrative law is the body of rules made by administrative or executive agencies of government. The Interstate Commerce Commission, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Federal Communications Commission are all examples of such an agency.

Civil law includes the rules that regulate the relationships among people. Private law includes many smaller groups of rules. Some examples are the rules relating to contracts, personal injuries, and real estate. Most people think of only criminal law when they hear the word law. However, most lawyers and courts spend most of their time dealing with problems of private law. These private law problems include taxation, business affairs, the transfer of property, and the collection of money for people injured through the fault of others. Cases or proceedings in civil courts are often called lawsuits.

Social conditions continually change, and so the law must also change or become outdated. Every nation changes its laws in the manner that its political system prescribes. In a dictatorship, only the top government leaders can change the law. Democracies, however, have developed four main methods of changing the law. Democratic laws change by court decision, by legislation, by administrative action, and by the direct action of the people.

Every independent country has its own legal system[11]. The systems vary according to each country’s social traditions and form of government. However, most systems can be classed as either a common-law system or a civil-law system. The United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other English-speaking countries have a common-law system. Most other countries have a civil-law system. Many countries combine features of both systems.

Law enforcement is one of the most important ways a government has of protecting its citizens. It usually refers to the action of police and the courts in catching and punishing criminals. However, a broad use of the term also includes the administration of justice in all law cases by the courts. Law enforcement is necessary to maintain order in a community, state, or country.

Private Citizens have more to do with law enforcement than simply obeying the laws. They should report to the authorities whenever they see a law being broken. Every citizen has the right to arrest a person he sees committing a crime.

CONCLUSION

Law is one of the most basic social institutions and one of the most necessary. No society could exist if all people did just as they pleased, without regard for the rights of others, nor could a society exist if its members did not recognize that they also have certain obligations toward one another. The law thus establishes the rules that define a person’s rights and obligations. The law also sets penalties for people who violate these rules and states how government shall enforce the rules and penalties.

Bibliography

Becker, Gary S. “Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach.”Journal of Political Economy 76 (1968): 169–217. The seminal article on the economic approach to crime.

Bouckaert, Boudewijn, and Gerrit De Geest, eds. Encyclopedia of Law and Economics. London: Edward Elgar, 2000. Also available online:http://encyclo.findlaw.com/. Mainly for economists and legal scholars interested in exploring particular topics more deeply.

Coase, Ronald H. “The Problem of Social Cost.” Journal of Law and Economics 3, no. 1 (1960): 1–44. The key article in law and economics and the origin of the famous Coase theorem.

Cooter, Robert D., and Thomas Ulen. Law and Economics. 3d ed. New York: Addison-Wesley, 1999. A textbook introduction to law and economics, mainly for economics students.

Dezhbakhsh, Hashem, Paul H. Rubin, and Joanna M. Shepherd. “Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect? New Evidence from Post-moratorium Panel Data.” American Law and Economics Review5 (2003): 344–376. Source of the estimate that each execution deters an average of eighteen murders.

Donohue, John, and Steven Levitt. “Legalized Abortion and Crime.”Quarterly Journal of Economics 116, no. 2 (2001): 379–420. Finds that much of the reduction in crime in recent years is due to the legalization of abortion.

Friedman, David D. Law’s Order: An Economic Account. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000. The simplest introduction to law and economics; accessible to general readers. Available online at:http://www.daviddfriedman.com/laws_order/index.shtml.

Hayek, Friedrich. The Constitution of Liberty. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960. More difficult reading, philosophical as well as economic.

Lott, John R. Jr., and David B. Mustard. “Crime, Deterrence and the Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns.” Journal of Legal Studies 26 (1997): 1–68. The original study finding that right-to-carry laws reduce crime. Although the study has been criticized, there is no evidence that these laws cause increases in crime.

Bill Goodman “Economic efficiency. – Economic Efficiency in Law and Economics – book review“. Monthly Labor Review. FindArticles.com. 17 Oct, 2010. http

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[1] The authority of law: essays on law and morality –By Joseph Raz

[2] An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law. Martin Luther King, Jr.

[3] Bill Goodman “Economic efficiency. – Economic Efficiency in Law and Economics – book review“. Monthly Labor Review. FindArticles.com. 17 Oct, 2010. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1153/is_6_125/ai_92203069/

[4] Becker, Gary S. “Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach.”Journal of Political Economy 76 (1968): 169–217. The seminal article on the economic approach to crime.

[5] Bouckaert, Boudewijn, and Gerrit De Geest, eds. Encyclopedia of Law and Economics. London: Edward Elgar, 2000. Also available online:http://encyclo.findlaw.com/. Mainly for economists and legal scholars interested in exploring particular topics more deeply.

[6] Coase, Ronald H. “The Problem of Social Cost.” Journal of Law and Economics 3, no. 1 (1960): 1–44. The key article in law and economics and the origin of the famous Coase theorem.

[7] Cooter, Robert D., and Thomas Ulen. Law and Economics. 3d ed. New York: Addison-Wesley, 1999. A textbook introduction to law and economics, mainly for economics students.

[8] Friedman, David D. Law’s Order: An Economic Account. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000. The simplest introduction to law and economics; accessible to general readers. Available online at:http://www.daviddfriedman.com/laws_order/index.shtml.

[9] Donohue, John, and Steven Levitt. “Legalized Abortion and Crime.”Quarterly Journal of Economics 116, no. 2 (2001): 379–420. Finds that much of the reduction in crime in recent years is due to the legalization of abortion.

[10] Lott, John R. Jr., and David B. Mustard. “Crime, Deterrence and the Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns.” Journal of Legal Studies 26 (1997): 1–68. The original study finding that right-to-carry laws reduce crime. Although the study has been criticized, there is no evidence that these laws cause increases in crime.

[11] Hayek, Friedrich. The Constitution of Liberty. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960. More difficult reading, philosophical as well as economic.