The Transmission of Legal Precedent Across the Australian State Supreme Courts Over the Twentieth Century


  • Funding for this project was provided by grants from the Department of Economics and the Faculty of Business and Economics, Monash University. We thank Chantelle Casey, Emily Hart, Amy Henderson, Adel Mohammad, Emily Stubbs, and Trent Wiltshire for research assistance on this project. We also thank two anonymous referees for detailed comments on an earlier version of this article.

Please direct all correspondence to Russell Smyth, Department of Economics, Monash University 3800, Victoria, Australia; e-mail:


This article considers several possible determinants of the transmission of legal precedent across Australian state supreme courts over the course of the twentieth century. The study finds that that the transmission of legal precedent is higher between State supreme courts that are more physically proximate and between state supreme courts in which a majority of judges in both courts are appointed by conservative governments. The study further finds that having an intermediate trial court and providing appointments to the High Court of Australia are correlated with whether a state is a source of interstate citations or a cue sender.