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 and trusts, restitution and unjust enrichment, game
theory, and law and 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 Private 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 disabilities 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 law, fiduciary law, and the law of restitution and unjust
This dissertation offers a law-and- economic analysis of legal incapacity in private law. It undertakes that
analysis with rational-choice models and bounded-rationality models that have psychological
foundations. A typical analysis of a legal doctrine 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 the 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 October 2, 2017