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Case Complexity and Citation to Judicial authority - Some Empirical Evidence from the New Zealand Court of Appeal

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journal contribution
posted on 06.06.2017, 02:29 authored by Smyth, Russell
This paper uses a data set on reported decisions of the New Zealand Court of Appeal to empirically test the influence of case complexity on the extent to which courts attempt to establish legitimacy through the citation of precedent. This is an application of Feldman and March's argument about the symbolic and signaling functions of information in organizations. Feldman and March argue that decision-makers gather and display information relevant to a decision in order to show that they are good decision-makers and that the symbolic value of information will be greater in more complex decisions. The results only provide weak support for Feldman and March's thesis with few statistically significant variables. These findings contrast with those of a similar previous empirical study by Harris for the United States State Supreme Courts. The paper concludes with a discussion of the possible reasons for the different findings.


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Department of Economics

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