Angela Huyue Zhang, Jingchen Liu, Judging in Europe: Do Legal Traditions Matter?

Angela Huyue  Zhang, Jingchen Liu, Judging in Europe: Do Legal Traditions Matter? (March 8, 2016). King’s College London Law School Research Paper No. 2016-13. Available at SSRN

The competition judgments of the General Court offer a unique opportunity to evaluate the relationship between legal traditions and judicial outcome. First, these judgments typically involve applications by private businesses to annul competition decisions made by the European Commission. Based on prior literature showing a divergence between common law and French legal tradition, we hypothesize that the legal origins of the judges will influence their attitudes in handling competition appeals. Second, competition cases are first assigned at random to a chamber, with a judge then designated as the rapporteur who will be most closely involved with the case. We hypothesize that this group dynamic will amplify the influence of the rapporteur. Using hand-collected data on the background characteristics of judges and on competition judgments between 1989 to 2015, we find that the legal origins of judges bear a statistically significant correlation with case outcomes, and that the rapporteur plays a crucial role in the decision-making process. In particular, if a rapporteur comes from a common law or Nordic law country, the decision is more likely to favor private businesses than if she is from any other EU country. More specifically, the odds that a competition judgment is annulled or partially annulled will be increased by a factor of 2.2.


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