Do lawyers really understand economics?

With more and more policy being founded in economic analysis, lawyers are having to become ever more familiar with economic concepts. Competition law (antitrust to Americans) is an area that has become particularly mired in economic analysis. In New Zealand we have seen plenty of debate over large cases in which anti-competitive behaviour has been alleged. So it is apropos to find two economists asking whether “antitrust [is] too complicated for generalist judges”:

We find that decisions involving the evaluation of complex economic evidence are significantly more likely to be appealed, and decisions of judges trained in basic economics are significantly less likely to be appealed than are decisions by their untrained counterparts. Our analysis supports the hypothesis that some antitrust cases are too complicated for generalist judges.

One of the authors has an interesting and detailed (for a blog post) discussion here. It’s certainly a worthwhile topic for investigation, since the decisions in these cases can be extremely expensive for the parties involved. If there is enough evidence, does it point to the need for specialist judges in this field?

2 replies
    • jamesz
      jamesz says:

      Hmmm, I wonder if there’s time series data on NZ that could allow you to look for a structural break in appeal rates around the time they introduced lay members.

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