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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Economics of Judicial Councils


In recent decades, many countries around the world have institutionalized judicial councils of some sort. These institutions are designed to maintain an appropriate balance between judicial independence and accountability. However, they differ in attributes and competences across the world. Our paper has two aims. First, we provide an economic theory of the formation of judicial councils and identify some of the dimensions along which they differ. Second, we test the extent to which different designs of judicial council affect judicial quality. We find that there is little relationship between councils and quality. We also offer a positive explanation for why judicial councils nevertheless remain attractive institutions. Finally, we discuss several experiences from the perspective of our theory.

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