Benito Arruñada - Universitat Pompeu Fabra
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The Economics of Notaries

Arruñada, Benito (1996), “The Economics of Notaries,” European Journal of Law and Economics, 3(1), 5-37.
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In Civil Law legal systems notaries fulfil two crucial roles, acting as both law enforcers and court officers, and as facilitators and enforcers of private transactions. In these countries, notaries achieve economies of scope by simultaneously providing private and public services and substituting both parties’ lawyers. This arrangement is subject, however, to serious conflicts of interest that could prejudice the provision of public services that have attributes of externalities, as well as the notary’s independence from all parties to the transaction. This paper shows how this notary system may be efficient in this context. Focusing on the Spanish case, it analyses the legal and economic nature of the services, the incentives that control their provision, and the cost in terms of competitive restraints that could be generated by the organizational patterns making up such incentives. Supporting empirical evidence is also provided.