From the US Chamber Institute for Legal Reform
The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) today released a study by NERA Economic Consulting showing that the U.S. has the world’s most costly legal system as a share of its economy. The study compared liability costs as a percentage of GDP using general liability insurance sold to companies in Canada, Eurozone countries, and the U.S. because it covers similar types of costs in each country. Data shows that as a percentage of its economy, the U.S. legal system costs over 150 percent more than the Eurozone average, and over 50 percent more than the United Kingdom.
“America is known as the land of the free, but it is also the land of unnecessary lawsuits,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of the ILR. “As the U.S. experience has shown, excessive litigation creates enormous costs for businesses, workers, consumers, and the overall economy.”
The study controlled for factors across countries that could account for significant differences in liability costs including the mix of businesses in a country, spending on government social programs, and the cost of private healthcare. It concludes that features of a country’s legal system explain most of the variation in liability costs.
In conjunction with the study, ILR also unveiled the results of a new national opinion survey showing that voters overwhelmingly view the civil legal system negatively, see it as more abuse-prone than a decade ago, and are concerned that it primarily benefits lawyers.
By ICJL President Ed Murnane
Thanks to the Chicago Tribune for shining a much needed light on judicial selection in Illinois (”The Illinois Supreme Patrons,” Editorial, Dec. 30).
The fact that judges rejected by voters are returned to office by the Supreme Court is bad enough. Even worse, most judges are placed in office by voters who know little, if anything, about them other than their political affiliation.
Half the judges in our state aren’t elected by anyone. They are appointed by other judges and not through any mandatory competency test. The Illinois Civil Justice League has been arguing for change for years, although our voice obviously has not been loud enough.
We hope the Tribune and others who believe Illinois needs a better process for selecting judges will join hands to improve our system.
Read the entire commentary…
Quinn: No New Casinos Without Pension Reform
From the Chicago Tribune
Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday put a finer point on a notion he’s been pushing this spring: no gambling expansion will happen without comprehensive changes to fix a greatly underfunded government worker pension system.
The Democratic governor also insisted that the votes are there to pass a gay marriage bill in the House, expressed concerns about the finances of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan for an arena at McCormick Place and opened the door to a future discussion of the controversial topic of taxing retirement income as part of a major state tax overhaul.
The myriad topics were addressed during Quinn appearances at the City Club of Chicago and the Tribune editorial board with less than two weeks left in the spring session. The governor is dealing with a legislature that in the past has found him to be of questionable relevance in deciding what gets voted on, and against that backdrop Quinn sought to tack carefully away from stirring controversy with the House and Senate’s Democratic leaders.
On pension reform, there are dueling House and Senate versions of plans to alter current and future state public employee pensions. Quinn said a measure backed by Senate President John Cullerton “needs improvement,” is “short of what’s needed” and is “incomplete.”
The governor, however, refused to say whether he would veto Cullerton’s plan, a measure agreed upon by public employee unions but that would save only about one-third of the $150 billion over 30 years promised in a House-backed measure sponsored by Speaker Michael Madigan. Illinois’ state pension systems have an unfunded liability approaching $100 billion.
Read more in our daily News Update…