Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci, Professor of Law and Professor of Economics, has recently been elected President of the European Association of Law & Economics (EALE). The EALE is the oldest Law & Economics (L&E) association in the world, organises a yearly conference, and is associated with an official journal, the Review of Law & Economics. Five questions were put to Dari-Mattiacci about his election and his vision for the growing field of Law & Economics.
1. What is the European Association of Law & Economics?
‘Since 1984, the European Association of Law and Economics has stimulated the development of Law and Economics in Europe. It is the institutional response to the increasing importance of economic analysis of law in Europe. It is interesting that L&E is usually associated with US legal scholarship. But the EALE is much older than the American Law & Economics Association (ALEA).’
2. Why is the EALE important?
‘The EALE is important because of its fostering of interdisciplinary research. For over 30 years, the EALE has brought together thousands of legal scholars interested in interdisciplinary research at the interface of law and the social sciences. Most universities in Europe now have a chair or a program in Law & Economics. This ties to a tradition dating back to the past century, when legal scholars interacted more intensely with other disciplines and law students were exposed to a broader array of courses in economics, history, and philosophy than they do today.’
3. What does the EALE do?
‘When they started, the EALE’s founders were a small group of friends. Over the years, they have managed to facilitate the foundation of two new journals and dedicated chairs, bachelor and master programs and PhD programs all over Europe. Furthermore, the EALE administers an endowment to award prizes to young scholars and life-time achievement prizes to older ones.’
4. What are your ambitions with the presidency?
‘Law & Economics has been the most influential and innovative approach to legal scholarship for over half a century. At its core, L&E proposes a consequentialist approach to law: to decide whether a rule is desirable or not one must look at its consequences in terms of behavior of the individuals subject to the law and, in turn, on the general ramifications of this behavior (what economists call "social welfare").
The challenges for the future come in two guises. First, European legal scholarship has remained relatively insulated from this way of thinking about the law, although most of the law deals with problems that are essentially economic. The EALE must improve the interdisciplinary dialogue between social scientists, legal scholars, and policy makers.
Second, new tools have been added to the traditional toolbox of L&E scholars and the speed of change has been so rapid that it is important to devote new energy to methodology. Empirical analysis and big data are at the core of this methodological advancement. The EALE must work to connect new methods to legal scholarship, now as it did in the past.’
5. How much time do you have to achieve your goals?
‘The term for the president of the association is three years. I will work together with five excellent scholars who make up the EALE board and host very active members of the association who are generously devoting their time to thinking of new initiatives.’
About Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci
Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci is Professor of Law and Professor of Economics (by courtesy) at the UvA. His current research projects include the theory and historical emergence of business organizations, the network structure of codes and constitutions, the economics of shareholder lawsuits, standard form and relational contracts, and carrots versus sticks.