Ben is a J.S.D. candidate and a Herman N. Finkelstein Memorial Fellow at Columbia Law School, and a Ph.D. (Economics) candidate at The Australian National University (hereinafter, “ANU”). His research interests are in the areas of contracts, equity (including trusts and parens patriae), law and economics, game theory, and behavioral economics.
Before coming to Columbia, Ben served as judicial clerk to Justice G.C. Lindsay of the Supreme Court of New South Wales while on leave from undergraduate studies (2012-13). He had also worked as a judicial clerk at the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory (2013-14), a sessional academic at the ANU (2014-16) and an advisor at the Australian Prime Minister’s department (2015). He was admitted as an Australian lawyer in 2014.
Ben completed the LL.M. at Columbia Law School (2015-16) and undergraduate degrees at the ANU (2008-13). He specialized in mathematical economics, civil procedure and commercial law.
Ben is a loyal member of the Francis Forbes Society for Australian Legal History. He has published in legal history and helped organize legal history tutorials for members and friends of the Society.
Project Working Title: “Legal Incapacity in Anglo-American Commercial Law”
The rules and principles in Anglo-American private law that govern the special rights and liabilities of legally incapable persons – such as persons affected by mental incapacities or guardianships – are as old as common law itself. These rules and principles continue to grow in importance and in controversy. The World Health Organization expects drastic increases in the proportion and number of older people in populations around the world. The number of people living with dementia is expected to triple its current estimate of 75 million by 2050. Almost one in five Americans experiences a mental disorder in a given year, and almost one in 25 experiences a serious mental disorder. The prevalence of mental disorders and increasing participation of older people in the modern economy suggest that the time is ripe for an economic analysis of a legally incapable person’s special rights and liabilities in the building blocks of private law – such as contract, restitution and property – that supply the rules and principles governing business activities (hereinafter, “commercial law”).
This dissertation offers a formal economic analysis of legal incapacity in commercial law. It undertakes that analysis with rational-choice models and bounded-rationality models that have psychological foundations. A typical analysis of a doctrine of commercial law takes three steps. The first step is a doctrinal and historical analysis of the relevant case law to reveal the particular psychological phenomenon that invokes commercial law’s special response. The second step connects that phenomenon to a modern theory in psychiatry or psychology and the corresponding decision-making model(s). If both rational-choice and bounded-rationality models appropriately capture the particular psychological phenomenon, then the principle of parsimony chooses the simpler model. The final step applies the chosen model to study the welfare implications of different rules and principles.
Updated November 14, 2016