Friday, December 24, 2010

Dickens, Bleak House, and Transactional Costs

At this festive  time of year, our literary thoughts turn to Charles Dickens. Though lawyers may appreciate “A Christmas Carol,” they may also reflect on his voluminous novel, “Bleak House,” in which Dickens takes to task the legal system of his day. The book offers a lesson in the transactional costs of litigation. The story centers around the lengthy will contest of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce. After many year of litigation, the case seems to be reaching a conclusion. However, the costs of litigation have eaten up all the assets of the once-ample estate.

 From the viewpoint of literary style, I recommend the first few pages of Chapter One where Dickens masterfully combines a discussion of London’s November fog with the ambience of the High Court of Chancery.


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