Journal Article

Who Benefits from Customary Justice? Rent-seeking, Bribery and Criminality in sub-Saharan Africa

Olivia D'Aoust and Olivier Sterck

in Journal of African Economies

Volume 25, issue 3, pages 439-467
Published in print June 2016 | ISSN: 0963-8024
Published online June 2016 | e-ISSN: 1464-3723 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jae/ejw001
Who Benefits from Customary Justice? Rent-seeking, Bribery and Criminality in sub-Saharan Africa

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  • Law and Economics
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  • Analysis of Collective Decision-making

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In many African countries, customary and statutory judicial systems co-exist. Customary justice is exercised by local courts and based on restorative principles, while statutory justice is mostly retributive and administered by magistrates' courts. As their jurisdiction often overlaps, victims can choose which judicial system to refer to, which may lead to contradictions between rules and inconsistencies in judgements. In this article, we construct a model representing a dual judicial system and we show that this overlap encourages rent-seeking and bribery and yields to high rates of petty crimes and civil disputes. We illustrate our predictions with examples from Uganda.

Keywords: custom; justice; criminal behaviour; informal institutions; Africa; Uganda; K40; O17; D70

Journal Article.  13988 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Law and Economics ; Economic Development ; Analysis of Collective Decision-making

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