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Full-Text Articles in Law

Do Legal Origins Predict Legal Substance?, Anu Bradford, Yun-Chien Chang, Adam S. Chilton, Nuno Garoupa Jan 2020

Do Legal Origins Predict Legal Substance?, Anu Bradford, Yun-Chien Chang, Adam S. Chilton, Nuno Garoupa

Faculty Scholarship

There is a large literature in economics and law suggesting that countries’ legal origins – whether a country’s legal regime was based on British common law or German, French, or Nordic civil law – profoundly impact a range of outcomes. However, the exact relationship between legal origins and legal substance has been disputed in the literature, and this relationship has not been fully explored with nuanced legal coding. We revisit this debate while leveraging extensive novel cross-country datasets that provide detailed coding of two areas of laws: property and antitrust. We find that having shared legal origins strongly predicts whether countries ...


The Architecture Of Property, Thomas W. Merrill, Henry E. Smith Jan 2019

The Architecture Of Property, Thomas W. Merrill, Henry E. Smith

Faculty Scholarship

Avoiding the reduction of property to a bundle or rights or to the working out of a single master principle, the architectural theory of property sees property as an integrated system or structure anchored in certain unifying principles. Because our world is neither chaotic nor additiviely simple, property law and institutions must achieve their plural ends in a fashion that manages the inherent complexity of the interaction of valued resource attributes and human actions. In managing complexity, some of the law’s structures receive functional explanations and justifications, which can be different from the explanations and justifications that apply to ...


Posession As A Natural Right, Thomas W. Merrill Jan 2015

Posession As A Natural Right, Thomas W. Merrill

Faculty Scholarship

What follows is, I hope, a tribute both to Friedrich Hayek, for whom this lecture series is named, and Richard Epstein, who was kind enough to invite me to give the lecture. Hayek has long been an inspiration for his insights about the advantages of decentralized decision making and the importance of information in understanding design of institutions. Both are recurring themes in my own work. Richard was my teacher at the University of Chicago Law School and has been a guiding light ever since. His works on nuisance law, takings, and the public trust doctrine, among others, have had ...


Anticipatory Remedies For Takings, Thomas W. Merrill Jan 2015

Anticipatory Remedies For Takings, Thomas W. Merrill

Faculty Scholarship

The Supreme Court has rendered two lines of decisions about the remedies available for a violation of the Takings Clause. One line holds that courts have no authority to enter anticipatory decrees in takings cases if the claimant can obtain compensation elsewhere. The other line, which includes three of the Court's most recent takings cases, results in the entry of an anticipatory decree about takings liability. This Essay argues that the second line is the correct one. Courts should be allowed to enter declaratory or other anticipatory judgments about takings liability, as long as they respect the limited nature ...


Property And The Right To Exclude Ii, Thomas W. Merrill Jan 2014

Property And The Right To Exclude Ii, Thomas W. Merrill

Faculty Scholarship

In 1998 I published a short essay entitled Property and the Right to Exclude. It appeared in an issue of the Nebraska Law Review honoring Lawrence Berger, a long-time property professor at Nebraska. The essay has been rather widely cited, but I have my doubts as to whether it has been widely read. A review of citations in Westlaw suggests that the essay is commonly identified as arguing that the right to exclude is the "sine qua non" of property, a statement that appears in the opening paragraph. The typical citing author takes this to mean that the essay argues ...


Why Restate The Bundle? The Disintegration Of The Restatement Of Property, Thomas W. Merrill, Henry E. Smith Jan 2014

Why Restate The Bundle? The Disintegration Of The Restatement Of Property, Thomas W. Merrill, Henry E. Smith

Faculty Scholarship

The American Law Institute (ALI) has devoted a great deal of time and energy to restating the law of property. To date, the ALI has produced 17 volumes that bear the name First, Second, or Third Restatement of Property. There is unquestionably much that is valuable in these materials. On the whole, however, the effort has been a disappointment. Some volumes seek faithfully to restate the consensus view of the law; others are transparently devoted to law reform. The ratio of reform to restatement has increased over time, to the point where significant portions of the Third Restatement consist of ...


Mortgage Modification And Strategic Behavior: Evidence From A Legal Settlement With Countrywide, Christopher Mayer, Edward R. Morrison, Tomasz Piskorski, Arpit Gupta Jan 2014

Mortgage Modification And Strategic Behavior: Evidence From A Legal Settlement With Countrywide, Christopher Mayer, Edward R. Morrison, Tomasz Piskorski, Arpit Gupta

Faculty Scholarship

We investigate whether homeowners respond strategically to news of mortgage modification programs. We exploit plausibly exogenous variation in modification policy induced by settlement of U.S. state government lawsuits against Countrywide Financial Corporation, which agreed to offer modifications to seriously delinquent borrowers. Using a difference-in-difference framework, we find that Countrywide's monthly delinquency rate increased more than 0.54 percentage points – ten percent relative increase – immediately after the settlement's announcement. The estimated increase in default rates is largest among borrowers least likely to default otherwise. These results suggest that strategic behavior should be an important consideration in designing mortgage ...


Coasean Bargaining In Consumer Bankruptcy, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2014

Coasean Bargaining In Consumer Bankruptcy, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

During my first weeks as a graduate student in economics, a professor described the Coase Theorem as “nearly a tautology:” Assume a world in which bargaining is costless. If there are gains from trade, the Theorem tells us, the parties will trade. The initial assignment of property rights will not affect the final allocation because the parties will bargain (costlessly) to an efficient outcome. “How can that be a theorem?,” I remember thinking at the time.


Contested Shore: Property Rights In Reclaimed Land And The Battle For Streeterville, Joseph D. Kearney, Thomas W. Merrill Jan 2013

Contested Shore: Property Rights In Reclaimed Land And The Battle For Streeterville, Joseph D. Kearney, Thomas W. Merrill

Faculty Scholarship

Land reclaimed from navigable waters is a resource uniquely susceptible to conflict. The multiple reasons for this include traditional hostility to interference with navigable waterways and the weakness of rights in submerged land. In Illinois, title to land reclaimed from Lake Michigan was further clouded by a shift in judicial understanding in the late nineteenth century about who owned the submerged land, starting with an assumption of private ownership but eventually embracing state ownership. The potential for such legal uncertainty to produce conflict is vividly illustrated by the history of the area of Chicago known as Streeterville, the area of ...


The Character Of The Governmental Action, Thomas W. Merrill Jan 2012

The Character Of The Governmental Action, Thomas W. Merrill

Faculty Scholarship

Penn Central Transportation Co. v. New York City holds a secure position in the architecture of the regulatory takings doctrine. That doctrine is at bottom a tool for distinguishing between different governmental powers; in particular, between the power of eminent domain and the police power. Because eminent domain requires that compensation be paid, whereas the police power does not, it is necessary to draw a line between these powers. Conceivably we could simply take the legislature at its word as to which power it is exercising. But at least since Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon, the Supreme Court has insisted ...


Making Coasean Property More Coasean, Thomas W. Merrill, Henry E. Smith Jan 2011

Making Coasean Property More Coasean, Thomas W. Merrill, Henry E. Smith

Faculty Scholarship

In his pioneering work on transaction costs, Ronald Coase presupposed a picture of property as a bundle of government-prescribed use rights. Not only is this picture not essential to Coase’s purpose, but its limitations emerge when we apply Coase’s central insights to analyze the structure of property itself. This leads to the Coase corollary: in a world of zero transaction costs, the nature of property does not matter to allocative efficiency. However, as with the Coase theorem, the real implication is for our world of positive transaction costs: we need to subject the notion of property to a ...


Contesting Property Rights: Towards An Integrated Theory Of Institutional And System Change, Katharina Pistor Jan 2011

Contesting Property Rights: Towards An Integrated Theory Of Institutional And System Change, Katharina Pistor

Faculty Scholarship

It is widely recognized that institutions are embedded in social systems and that institutions as well as social systems change over time. Several implications follow: First, institutions cannot be described and analyzed without referring to the system in which they operate; conversely, a system cannot be described without reference to its core institutions. Second, systems foster institutional change and can breed new institutions. Third, institutional change can have systemic implications and may even engender the formation of new systems. In short, the relation between institutions and systems is characterized by complex interactions. A better understanding of the dynamics of institutional ...


Making Coasean Property More Coasean, Thomas W. Merrill, Henry E. Smith Jan 2011

Making Coasean Property More Coasean, Thomas W. Merrill, Henry E. Smith

Faculty Scholarship

In his pioneering work on transaction costs, Ronald Coase presupposed a picture of property as a bundle of government-prescribed use rights. This picture is not only not essential to what Coase was trying to do, but its limitations emerge when we apply Coase’s central insights to analyze the structure of property itself. This leads to what we term the Coase Corollary: in a world of zero transaction costs the nature of property does not matter to allocative efficiency. But as with the Coase Theorem itself, the real point is the implication for a positive transaction cost world: we need ...


Gridlock Economy: How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets, Stops Innovation, And Costs Lives (Introduction), Michael A. Heller Jan 2010

Gridlock Economy: How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets, Stops Innovation, And Costs Lives (Introduction), Michael A. Heller

Faculty Scholarship

Twenty-five new runways would eliminate most air travel delays in America; fifty patent owners are blocking a major drug company from creating a cancer cure; 90 percent of our broadcast spectrum sits idle while American cell phone service suffers. These problems have solutions that can jump-start innovation and help save our troubled economy. So, what's holding us back?


Direct Voting By Property Owners, Thomas W. Merrill Jan 2010

Direct Voting By Property Owners, Thomas W. Merrill

Faculty Scholarship

Direct voting by property owners is a widespread but controversial tool for resolving disputes over local collective goods. Direct voting has powerful advantages, in that it can harness the superior knowledge of many local minds, resolve controversies in a way that is perceived to be legitimate, and eliminate corrupt dealmaking. But it also has serious pitfalls, if local voters are poorly informed, or if they ignore external effects on other communities, or if the process is distorted by majoritarian or minoritarian bias. To capitalize on the advantages of local voting, and minimize the risks, this Article proposes that direct voting ...


Accession And Original Ownership, Thomas W. Merrill Jan 2009

Accession And Original Ownership, Thomas W. Merrill

Faculty Scholarship

Although first possession is generally assumed to be the dominant means of establishing original ownership of property, there is a second but less studied principle for initiating ownership, called accession, which awards new resources to the owner of existing property most prominently connected to the new resource. Accession applies across a wide variety of areas, from determining rights to baby animals and growing crops to determining ownership of derivative rights under intellectual property laws. Accession shares common features with first possession, in that both principles assign ownership uniquely in a way that imposes minimal information cost burdens on society. But ...


Accession And Original Ownership, Thomas W. Merrill Jan 2009

Accession And Original Ownership, Thomas W. Merrill

Faculty Scholarship

Although first possession is generally assumed to be the dominant means of establishing original ownership of property, there is a second but less studied principle for initiating ownership, called accession, which awards new resources to the owner of existing property most prominently connected to the new resource. Accession applies across a wide variety of areas, from determining rights to baby animals and growing crops to determining ownership of derivative rights under intellectual property laws. Accession shares common features with first possession, in that both principles assign ownership uniquely in a way that imposes minimal information cost burdens on society. But ...


Land Assembly Districts, Michael A. Heller, Rick Hills Jan 2008

Land Assembly Districts, Michael A. Heller, Rick Hills

Faculty Scholarship

Eminent domain for economic development is both attractive and appalling. States need the power to condemn because so much land in America is inefficiently fragmented. But public land assembly provokes hostility because vulnerable communities get bulldozed. Courts offer no help. The academic literature is a muddle. Is it possible to assemble land without harming the poor and powerless? Yes. This Article proposes the creation of Land Assembly Districts, or "LADs." This new property form solves the age-old tensions in eminent domain and shows, more generally, how careful redesign of property rights can enhance both welfare and fairness. The economic and ...


Land Assembly Districts, Michael Heller, Roderick M. Hills, Jr. Jan 2008

Land Assembly Districts, Michael Heller, Roderick M. Hills, Jr.

Faculty Scholarship

Eminent domain for economic development is both attractive and appalling. States need the power to condemn because so much land in America is inefficiently fragmented. But public land assembly provokes hostility because vulnerable communities get bulldozed. Courts offer no help. The academic literature is a muddle. Is it possible to assemble land without harming the poor and powerless? Yes. This Article proposes the creation of Land Assembly Districts, or “LADs.” This new property form solves the age-old tensions in eminent domain and shows, more generally, how careful redesign of property rights can enhance both welfare and fairness. The economic and ...


The Disputed Quality Of Software Patents, John R. Allison, Ronald J. Mann Jan 2007

The Disputed Quality Of Software Patents, John R. Allison, Ronald J. Mann

Faculty Scholarship

We analyze the characteristics of the patents held by firms in the software industry. Unlike prior researchers, we rely on the examination of individual patents to determine which patents involve software inventions. This method of identifying the relevant patents is more laborious than the methods that previous scholars have used, but it produces a data set from which we can learn more about the role of patents in the software industry. In general, we find that patents the computer technology firms obtain on software inventions have more prior art references, claims, and forward citations than the patents that the same ...


The Morality Of Property, Thomas W. Merrill, Henry E. Smith Jan 2007

The Morality Of Property, Thomas W. Merrill, Henry E. Smith

Faculty Scholarship

The relationship between property and morality has been obscured by three elements in our intellectual tradition. First is the assumption, which can be traced to Bentham, that property is a pure creature of law. An institution assumed to be wholly dependent on law for its existence is unlikely to be infused with strong moral content. Second is the related tradition, also Benthamite, of examining questions about property law from a utilitarian perspective. Utilitarianism is, of course, a moral theory. But in its modern applications, based on price theory and cost-benefit analysis, it adopts a framework largely indifferent to questions of ...


Connecticut: Ace Equip. Sales, Inc. V. Buccino, Michael J. Graetz Jan 2005

Connecticut: Ace Equip. Sales, Inc. V. Buccino, Michael J. Graetz

Faculty Scholarship

Ace Equip. Sales, Inc. v. Buccino, 869 A.2d 626 (Conn. 2005) (reversing adoption of the civil law rule that afforded an inherent riparian right by virtue of abutting property ownership).


Policing L.A.'S Skid Row: Crime And Real Estate Development In Downtown Los Angeles [An Experiment In Real Time], Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2005

Policing L.A.'S Skid Row: Crime And Real Estate Development In Downtown Los Angeles [An Experiment In Real Time], Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

Disorderly neighborhoods in the United States were the center of heated debate and much political initiative at the turn of the twenty-first century. Among criminal law scholars, sociologists, and students of policing, New York City drew the most attention, and presented the question whether order-maintenance policing really brought down crime and transformed disorderly neighborhoods like Times Square into high-end, commercially viable, urban communities. In this debate, the NYPD was generally the lead protagonist and crime reduction the dominant plot.

But is that right? Did the NYPD's "broken windows" policing really lead the urban renewal in New York City? Or ...


Conflicts In Property, Hanoch Dagan, Michael A. Heller Jan 2005

Conflicts In Property, Hanoch Dagan, Michael A. Heller

Faculty Scholarship

Property concerns conflicts – both conflicts between individuals and conflicts of interest. Conflicts between individuals have long been the paradigmatic property focus. According to this view, property debates circle around issues of autonomy and productive competition. But this is an impoverished view. In this Article, we shift attention to conflicts of interest. By helping people manage conflicts of interest, a well-governed property system balances interdependence with autonomy and productive cooperation with productive competition. We identify three mechanisms woven throughout property law that help manage conflicts of interest: (1) internalization of externalities; (2) democratization of management; and (3) de-escalation of transactions. We ...


The Origins Of The American Public Trust Doctrine: What Really Happened In Illinois Central, Joseph D. Kearney, Thomas W. Merrill Jan 2004

The Origins Of The American Public Trust Doctrine: What Really Happened In Illinois Central, Joseph D. Kearney, Thomas W. Merrill

Faculty Scholarship

The public trust doctrine has always been controversial. The general rule in American law favors ownership of natural resources as private property. The public trust doctrine, a jarring exception of uncertain dimensions, posits that some resources are subject to a perpetual trust that forecloses private exclusion rights. For environmentalists and preservationists who view private ownership as a source of the degradation of our natural and historical resources, the public trust doctrine holds out the hope of salvation through what amounts to a judicially enforced inalienability rule that locks resources into public ownership. For those who view private property as the ...


Conflicts In Property, Hanoch Dagan, Michael Heller Jan 2004

Conflicts In Property, Hanoch Dagan, Michael Heller

Faculty Scholarship

Property concerns conflicts – both conflicts between individuals and conflicts of interest. Conflicts between individuals have long been the paradigmatic property focus. According to this view, property debates circle around issues of autonomy and productive competition. But this is an impoverished view. In this Article, we shift attention to conflicts of interest. By helping people manage conflicts of interest, a well-governed property system balances interdependence with autonomy and productive cooperation with productive competition. We identify three mechanisms woven throughout property law that help manage conflicts of interest: (1) internalization of externalities; (2) democratization of management; and (3) de-escalation of transactions. We ...


Private Property And The Politics Of Environmental Protection, Thomas W. Merrill Jan 2004

Private Property And The Politics Of Environmental Protection, Thomas W. Merrill

Faculty Scholarship

Private property plays two opposing roles in stories about the environment. In the story favored by most environmentalists, private property is the bad guy. It balkanizes an interconnected ecosystem into artificial units of individual ownership. Owners of these finite parcels have little incentive to invest in ecosystem resources and every incentive to dump polluting wastes onto other parcels. Only by relocating control over natural resources in some central authority like the federal government, can we make integrated decisions designed to preserve the health of the entire ecosystem. For these traditional environmentalists, private property is the problem; public control is the ...


The Demsetz Thesis And The Evolution Of Property Rights, Thomas W. Merrill Jan 2002

The Demsetz Thesis And The Evolution Of Property Rights, Thomas W. Merrill

Faculty Scholarship

Both conventional price theory and standard economic accounts of tort and contract law assume fixed property rights. In fact, however, property regimes are not static but change over time. Given the assumption of fixed property that otherwise prevails in economic literature, explaining the evolution of property rights is one of the great challenges for the economic analysis of law.

The point of departure for virtually all efforts to explain changes in property rights is Harold Demsetz’s path‐breaking article, “Toward a Theory of Property Rights.” The article is still widely cited and reproduced, especially in first‐year property courses ...


Incomplete Compensation For Takings, Thomas W. Merrill Jan 2002

Incomplete Compensation For Takings, Thomas W. Merrill

Faculty Scholarship

If a tribunal determines that a state actor has expropriated foreign investment property, or, under Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), that a state actor has adopted a regulation that is "tantamount to" an expropriation of foreign investment property, then that tribunal must determine the amount of compensation owed. International law has developed methods to determine the size of a compensation award when a state formally expropriates property. But the notion, reflected in Chapter 11 of NAFTA, that states may be required to pay compensation to foreign investors for what are, in effect, regulatory takings, is ...


The Property/Contract Interface, Thomas W. Merrill, Henry E. Smith Jan 2001

The Property/Contract Interface, Thomas W. Merrill, Henry E. Smith

Faculty Scholarship

This Article explores the distinction between in personam contract rights and in rem property rights. It presents a functional explanation for why the legal system utilizes these two modalities of rights, grounded in the pattern of information costs associated with each modality. To test this theory, the Article examines four legal institutions that fall along the property/contract interface – bailments, landlord-tenant law, security interests, and trusts – in order to determine how the legal doctrine varies as the underlying situation shifts from in personam, to in rem, to certain relations intermediate between these poles. With respect to each institution, we generally ...