A Law and Economics Exam Question

In Virginia the common law has long held that if a neighbor’s tree encroaches on your yard you may cut the branches as they fall over the property line but any damage the tree does to your property is your problem.  Your neighbor can even sue if your pruning kills the tree.  Last week the Virginia Supreme Court overruled this 70 year-old precedent so that now it’s your neighbor’s duty to prune or cut down the tree if it is a "nuisance."

Discuss.  Which rule is better the new rule or the old?  What does this ruling imply about Posner’s hypothesis about the efficiency of the common law?  What would Coase say? 


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