International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Edmund H. Mantell

This paper derives efficiency criteria that can be applied by a judge who must render a judgment vesting a right. Two litigants each claim a right to assign a numerical value to something. The judge has the jurisdictional power to render a declaratory judgment vesting the right exclusively in either party. Or he may exercise his discretion by assigning the numerical value to a party. The analysis in this paper is based on an assumption that the jurisprudence requires maximization of a social welfare function, defined as the sum of the litigants‘ utility functions. The results compare the distributive efficiency of a declaratory judgment with the distributive efficiency of a discretionary judgment. The results establish a decision criterion that is distributively efficient in the sense that it maximizes the social welfare function when the judge is imperfectly informed as to the litigant‘s valuations.

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