DP8266 Why Stare Decisis?

Author(s): Luca Anderlini, Leonardo Felli, Alessandro Riboni
Publication Date: February 2011
Keyword(s): Case Law, Precedents, Stare Decisis, Time-Inconsistency
JEL(s): C79, D74, D89, K40, L14
Programme Areas: Industrial Organization
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=8266

All Courts rule ex-post, after most economic decisions are sunk. This might generate a time-inconsistency problem. From an ex-ante perspective, Courts will have the (ex-post) temptation to be excessively lenient. This observation is at the root of the principle of stare decisis. Stare decisis forces Courts to weigh the benefits of leniency towards the current parties against the beneficial effects that tougher decisions have on future ones. We study these dynamics and find that stare decisis guarantees that precedents evolve towards ex-ante efficient decisions, thus alleviating the Courts? time-inconsistency problem. However, the dynamics do not converge to full efficiency