The Role Of Panels In Enhancing Legal Predictability

This article considers the justification for using panels of judges to make decisions in common law systems. The usual argument is that panels are more likely than lone judges to make correct judgments. This article suggests an additional justification: panels increase the law's predictability, so potential litigants can anticipate correctly which legal rules will apply in their cases. Three models, each with a different conception of the legal process, are employed to demonstrate the predictability-enhancing effect of panels. Comparison of the models suggests the effect is strongest when precedent has a substantial impact on how judges make decisions.