Discovering Law

Hayekian Competition in Medieval Iceland

Originally published in Griffith Law Review

The general consensus is that some minimal government is needed to provide law and enforce rules. However, between 930 and 1262, the Icelandic Commonwealth functioned without a central government, relying instead on market mechanisms and private institutions. An elaborate legal system developed that guided social interaction and coordinated conflict resolution. This article utilises Hayek’s theory of competition as a discovery process to examine the emergence of law in medieval Iceland. Founded on private property and competition, the legal structure in medieval Iceland promoted discovery of law and resulted in the relative impartiality of judgments.

The general consensus is that some minimal government is needed to provide law and enforce rules. However, between 930 and 1262, the Icelandic Commonwealth functioned without a central government, relying instead on market mechanisms and private institutions. An elaborate legal system developed that guided social interaction and coordinated conflict resolution. This article utilises Hayek’s theory of competition as a discovery process to examine the emergence of law in medieval Iceland. Founded on private property and competition, the legal structure in medieval Iceland promoted discovery of law and resulted in the relative impartiality of judgments.

Find the article at Taylor & Francis Online.

 

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