woensdag 16 december 2009

Law a a discovery procedure

De tekst 'Law as a Discovery Procedure' lijkt mij een uiterest interessante tekst.

[Na het lezen: deze tekst is een absolute aanrader aan iedereen die in de liberale, maar ook in de niet liberale, beweging zit. Zéker lezen. Hij gaat je veel bijleren, sowieso.]

Van de inleiding:
This paper will attempt to unify the respective notions of a discovery procedure that are present in the study of law and economics. The second section of this paper will briefly review the relevant parts of Hayek’s argument and clarify what is meant by an “effective” discovery procedure. The third section will explain why the common law process is not, in fact, a procedure that is systematically effective in discovering legal rules. Government legislative processes are seen to be ineffective for the same reason. The third section will then outline a private legal process that, arguably, offers more promise.
The fourth and fifth sections will discuss some criticisms of a private legal process, emphasizing those made by William Landes and Richard Posner. The sixth section will argue that, even if it were ultimately found to be defective, the mere outlining ofsuch a process yields “some interesting consequences that are not so obvious” for traditional issues in legal philosophy. The issues will include questions in tort and contract law, the proper relationship between law and morality, and whether law and morality are properly seen as essentially utilitarian devices or as manifestations of rights to be honored independent of utilitarian considerations.
We beginnen te lezen.

We lezen eerst een recapitulatie van het Hayekiaans inzicht over de verspreiding van kennis en de waarde van markten vis a vis de overheid. We ontdekken ook het waarom van deze tekst:
As Hayek commented at the end of his 1968 lecture, however, an effective competitive process requires a complementary legal environment that defines and enforces rights concerning propertyand contracts. But Hayek’s 1968 lecture did not go far in outlining the features ofsuch a legal environment except to say that appropriate “protection for private initiatives and enterprise can only ever be achieved through the institution of private property and the whole aggregate of libertarian institutions of law” (Hayek 1978, p. 190).
Hij vervolgt dan met wat de essentie zal zijn van zijn kritiek op de Common Law visie van Hayek:
But neither Hayek’s praise nor his limited criticism of the common law process takes full account of the modern literature on the economics of property rights and other research in law and economics. As we shall see, this work makes clear why the common law process sometimes goes awry; it has started to articulate the precise conditions under which the process will, or will not, be effective. It also suggests why government legislative bodies cannot be counted on as a corrective device and points to radically different legal institutions as a possible means of at least shedding light on the principles on which many legal issues might be resolved.
Hij gaat dan over op het bespreken van wat nu concreet de issue is. 'k denk dat de meest relevante zin dit is:
The notion of an effective discovery procedure, on the other hand, refers to an ongoing process whereby information about not-yet-exhausted gains from trade is continually and economically uncovered and disseminated to individuals.
To summarize, if we say that one social process constitutes a more effective discovery procedure than another, we mean that it constitutes a systematically more economical way of generating and transmitting information about not-yet-exhausted gains from trade (as these are subjectively valued by individuals), including information about those gains that are or are not attainable after considering transactions costs.
Hij heeft ook een interessante (zij-)kritiek op de standaard Law & Economics literatuur.
That must be more plainly said is that government institutions, by definition, involve property rights that are not freely transferable. (...) That is, institutional failure is seen as avoidable—if appropriate property rights structures can be established. The establishment of appropriate property rights structures is, in turn, seen as a basic function of government. But government itself is governed by a property rights structure that the literature would deem inappropriate, so how can it be expected to carry out its tasks successfully?
Heerlijke opmerking. Hij bespreekt zijn kritiek op gelijkaardige wijze op de common law, i.e. dat er een verkeerde eigendomsstructuur is.
Hayek provides some other possible explanations for the common law process being defective, but none of them gets to the fundamental issue: the property rights structure governing the process. It is not necessarily undesirable if upper-class individuals provide
De eigendomsstructuur is immers zo:
The property rights structure is. Insofar as common law judges are decisionmakers of enterprises—government courts—for which rights are not transferable, and sometimes not even defined, they are in the position of central economic planners.” They cannot know all the circumstances oftime and place that would be relevant to efficient decisions, and there is no discovery procedure to duplicate that which prevails in free markets.’
Het laat niet te veel aan de verbeelding is wat de uiteindelijke conclusie zal zijn, maar de argumentatie is zowel origineel ('k kan me niet herinneren die al tegengekomen te zijn) als dat hij redelijk terecht is, zover ik kan zien. Hij bespreekt dan ook een privaat justitiesysteem - zonder al te postief te zijn over de mogelijkheden. Het is duidelijk dat hij het niet als een utopie beschouwt - en terecht dat hij het niet zo beziet.

Six major points of controversy will now be discussed with respect to a private legal system:
  1. (1) the incentives for private courts to provide impartial justice,
  2. (2) the incentives to articulate legal precedents,
  3. (3) the incentives for standardizing legal rules across jurisdictions,
  4. (4) the problems posed by instances of large numbers of small claims,
  5. (5) the private protection for legal rights that would emerge, and
  6. (6) the desirability ofthe social conventions that would underlie a private system of law.
All of these points of controversy cast doubton whether a private legal system would be governed by an effective legal discovery procedure.

'k laat het aan de lezer over om zelf de auteur zijn bespreking van deze kritische punten te lezen. 'k zal trachten de essentie van elk tegenargument te citeren.
  1. the most striking outcome of such confrontations [tussen competetieve jurisdicties] was the emergence (discovery) of relatively uniform rules of law to resolve differences among competing court systems. These rules were independent of the will of any single (monopoly) authority. The issues governed by them included not only a variety of substantive disputes among individuals, but procedural disputes between church and king concerning court jurisdictions and recalcitrant parties.

  2. In a private legal system, the articulation of clear and unbiased precedents would be a matter of self-interest for courts insofar as it is a way of establishing brand-name capital. (...) From a more dynamic perspective, however, one can see why the incentives to articulate precedents would be likely to dominate. First, one can envision a market in legal decisions in which enterprising couits would sell the written opinions of their judges to law firms or to the various retrieval services on which lawyers rely. Beyond this, one would expect the formation of insurance organizations to help individuals and firms pool risks with respect to liability and litigation costs. (...) To the extent that these organizations had clients with conflicting interests—with some clients more likely to be plaintiffs in certain classes of cases, and other clients more likely to be defendants—the organizations would have an interest in having courts articulate unbiased precedents, so as to minimize the number offuture disputes occurring and, in turn, their costs. These organizations would also have an interest in reducing litigation costs by encouraging lawabiding behavior on the part oftheir clients. (...) In a private legal system, one would expect courts to compete with each other to establish contractual arrangements with such organizations. The organizations would agree in advance to bring their disputes to those tribunals that had reputations for setting clear precedents.

  3. But the more important point is that the degree of the law’s uniformity that does, in fact, emerge under more pluralistic legal institutions (e.g., the Law Merchant) contributes to the view that there exists a rule of law that is independent of the will of state rulers. Indeed, the existence of pluralistic legal institutions makes the rule of law necessary as a means ofeconomizing on the costs of resolving disputes among courts with overlapping jurisdictions. And the rule of law is the protector of liberty.

  4. Businesses, including private courts, certainly welcome a strong demand for their products, but one must be careful about exactly what it is that people want. Depending on the circumstances, people demand litigation-avoidance rather than litigation. More specifically, one would expect insurance companies in a private legal system to associate only with those courts that economized on the need for litigation. This association would be the private sector counterpart. to companies’ lobbying of politicians for no-fault insurance under current institutions. In a private legal system an enterprising court could announce that, effective on such-and-such a date, it would offer new contractual terms for insurance companies so that, in return for a flat fee that was based on a company’s past involvement in legal disputes, the court would hear any cases the company wished to bring before it during the next 12 months—under the proviso that the court would refuse to assign fault in accident cases involving motor vehicles. Assuming insurance companies would prefer a no fault system, such acourt could charge lower fees and gain a competitive edge.

  5. The point is [na enkele empirische voorbeelden] that people can be excluded from security if they do not pay for it; spillover benefits need not exist. (Als reactie op het monopolie-argument van externaliteiten.) (...) To say, as Buchanan does, “conflicts may occur, and one agency will win,” is to assume that agencies continually fight each other until only a single one is left instead ofsettling disputes in a more peaceful, lower-cost fashion that enables many firms to survive and prosper.
    Several examples of stateless societies serviced by private protection efforts have existed in history. Some ofthese societies lasted far longer than countries that tried to forestall a general outbreak of lawlessness by subjugating a state to a constitution.
    De auteur is echter ook niet bang voor het inzien van de beperkingen: "Needless to say, a purely private legal system would not survive in such conditions."

  6. Zijn bespreking van dit laatste punt is heel genuanceerd en is, waarschijnlijk, het meest interessante van heel de tekst (pg. 519-521 of 23-25 van de pdf) en zou ik dus zeker aan willen raden aan iedereen. 'k kan echter niet weerstaan aan de laatste zin toch te citeren - dat zeker geen conclusie is van al de rest, maar simpelweg een laatste opmerking aan een genuanceerd stukje: " A strength of a nongovern mental system may also be that, if a disagreement about fundamental values does arise, no one has a state readily available through which he can try to impose or subsidize his views."
Hierna vervolgt de auteur door de implicaties van zijn visie te bespreken op het vlak van Tort en Contract law, de relatie tussen moraliteit en wetgeving, de relatie tussen individuele rechten en nut en anarchisme en libertarisme.

Over tort law
A thoroughgoing Austrian position would thus maintain that the extent to which strict liability prevails should be the object of a discovery procedure. The issue could be resolved in a market for court services.
Over contract law
To be sure, no judge would know the “correct” damage award that would generate precisely the “proper” subjective experience for B, but there are undoubtedly occasions when compensatory damages would be preferable to all parties concerned, especially if high bargaining costs existed to hinder A and B from negotiating a settlement among themselves. Again, the matter could be resolved in a market for courts.
Over de relatie tussen wetgeving en moraliteit

[the market process] at least offers the prospect of uncovering the information that is relevant for deciding when it is worthwhile to resort to the formal enterprises of the law.
(Hij kiest hier ook voor een comperatieve analyse. Het is waar dat sommige zaken onderdeel moeten zijn van de legale structuur en anderen zuiver van moraliteit, maar de vraag is welk proces we laten oordelen over wat bij wat hoort. Centrale (wetgeving) planning of een gedecentraliseerd proces?)

Over de relatie tussen individuele rechten en nut

Speaking more concretely, the paper emphasizes that a deep respect for rights of private property (and the liberty they secure) is the sine qua non of the system under discussion. At the same time, the paper has argued that in some cases a process of articulating and enforcing a complete set of private rights is probably too costly. As in other matters, resource scarcity would constrain what people would choose to do.
Over libertarisme en anarchisme (uiterst relevant!)

This paper has cast doubt on the germaneness of such a perspective. [Een perspectief dat 'anarchisme' noodzakelijkerwijze direct en compleet 'libertarisch' is.] As previously discussed, the legal rights to property and contract would probably not be absolute in a private legal system. To some extent, then, the system might not be purely libertarian. Nor would a private legal system necessarily consider a person’s legal rights to be infringed only if he (or his tangible property) had been physically invaded or defrauded.
People can, of course, try to persuade others, including the judges in a future private legal system, to adopt a philosophy ofstrict, or even ultrastrict, “anarcho-libertarianism,” just as they can try to persuade today’s legislators to enact a particular combination ofpolicies or, for that matter, persuade private enterprises to sell partictilar products at particular prices. The problem is that people in whatever politicoeconomic system is under discussion are faced with incentives that are not systematically consistent with the particular actions being asked ofthem. Thus, if an ideological movement succeeded in bringing about a pure state ofanarcho-libertarianism (as improbable as that seems), this result would probably not constitute a stable politicoeconomic equilibrium.
Een compleet privaat systeem kan echter moeilijkheden hebben om met bepaalde situaties om te gaan:

  1. (1) Especially in areas threatened by external forces, such as predator states, one cannot dismiss lightly the concern that protection agencies may constitute natural monopolies;
  2. (2) there may be public-good/prisoner-dilemma situations such that even those wary of government powers would deem a state to be a necessary evil; and
  3. (3)the process that is to guide the formation and sustenance of norms and values does not inspire great confidence. As previously discussed, this last concern can be seen as a special case of the second concern above.
We stappen over naar de conclusie:
One can favor a stateless system, believe it could be reasonably stable for an extended period, and still conclude that, like it or not, the system would eventually break down or evolve into something else. The same can be said with regard to a system oflimited government. Nothing lasts forever, and to arrive at this or any other truism one does not need much of a discovery procedure.
En nu mijn conclusie.

Het was zonder enige twijfel een goede tekst. Vooral omdat ik zelf rondloop met enkele gelijkaardige gedachten (zeker omtrendt de relatie tussen anarchie en liberalisme, i.e. dat anarchisme niet noodzakelijk compleet liberalisme betekent en dat er in anarchie ook rechtsregels zijn die niet veel met liberalisme te maken hebben). Hij was ook enorm genuanceerd - en duidelijk beseffend wat de beperkingen zijn van een anarchistisch systeem en wanneer dit in de problemen kan komen.

Geen opmerkingen: