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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Law and Management, Volume 50, Issue 6.
It is reported that in 1897 Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “For the rational study of the law the black-letter man may be the man of the present, but the man of the future is the man of statistics and the master of economics” (The Path of the Law, quoted in Bix, 2006). Today the economic analysis of law has grown in influence, particularly in America where it now provides the initial framework for much policy and academic analysis of legal application and reform. An insight into that analysis in practice is presented in the first two articles in this issue of the journal. In the first study Demetri Kantarelis revisits the popular area for law and economics scholars, that of negligence liability and costs. Through a detailed analysis of the efficiencies sought by organisations through seeking to internalise liability costs between the company and its various stakeholders, Dr Kantarelis is able to provide evidence to support a very strong choice dependency on marginal precautionary costs and marginal expected return. This study will add to those seeking to understand the impact and efficiencies of negligence liability, and provides a further illustration of the benefits of law and economics approach.
In the second study Gordon Brown presents an interesting analysis of the occasional tension found between the application of legal language and economic reality. This is illustrated through a consideration of real property access rights, including rights of reasonable access. Dr Brown considers whether the layers of legal language used in this area is like opening a set of Chinese boxes with the consequential inefficiencies and uncertainties, and considers the possible benefits of applying a transactional cost model to these issues and uncertainties. It is suggested that such an application would provide an interesting dimension to any future reform considerations.
The third article in this issue focuses on the recent regulatory changes in the UK to Credit Unions. Andrew Baker provides a context for those changes through a study of the emergence of Credit Unions in the UK and the developed perception of them being the source of “poor person” funds with the consequent impact on their performance. This is compared with the very different public perceptions of and success of Credit Unions in the USA. The recent regulatory reforms in the UK are placed in this historical context with consideration given to the possible impact of those changes, particularly the “new” ability to offer a contractual rate of interest. It is possible that these changes will add to an improvement in both the image and the extent of activity of Credit Unions in the UK.
Finally one of the biggest challenges and frustrations for both employers and claimants in employment cases is in seeking to understand and predict tribunal decision-making in claims of sexual harassment. Through an analysis of Employment Tribunal cases in the UK, covering a ten year period, Graeme Lockwood seeks to identify the key factors that have influenced tribunal decision making. The analysis reveals some pertinent issues for consideration by both employers and claimants and, in places, some important but seemingly uncomfortable messages for both parties!
James Kirkbride and Geraint Howells
ReferenceBix, B. (2006), Jurisprudence: Theory and Context, 4th ed., Sweet & Maxwell , London, p. 189.