“The only civil or criminal system consonant with libertarian legal principles is to have judges (and/or juries and arbitrators) pursuing charges of torts by plaintiffs made against defendants.The crucial point is that anarcho-capitalism abolishes the state and all state-based criminal law. There would no longer be any criminal laws.
It should be underlined that in libertarian legal theory, only the victim (or his heirs and assigns) can legitimately press suit against alleged transgressors against his person or property. District attorneys or other government officials should not be allowed to press charges against the wishes of the victim, in the name of ‘crimes’ against such dubious or nonexistent entities as ‘society’ or the ‘state.’ If, for example, the victim of an assault or theft is a pacifist and refuses to press charges against the criminal, no one else should have the right to do so against his wishes. For just as a creditor has the right to ‘forgive’ an unpaid debt voluntarily, so a victim, whether on pacifist grounds or because the criminal has bought his way out of a suit or any other reason, has the right to ‘forgive’ the crime so that the crime is thereby annulled.” (Rothbard 2011: 407).
All crimes – even the worst possible – would simply become offences only punishable under a system of private tort law. In “common law” nations, a tort is a wrongful or harmful act against a person other than breach of contract (in “civil law” nations torts are generally called “delicts”). Under tort law, the victim can obtain redress or justice only if they privately bring a law suit or legal action against the perpetrator or aggressor.
It is perfectly obvious that if a victim cannot afford legal services and the fees to bring a private law suit under tort law, then no trials or punishments of many criminals will ever happen.
More importantly, the principle of refusing to investigate or punish heinous crimes – crimes so serious that we deem them against the interests of all citizens – when a criminal can simply buy off his victim strongly suggests that the rich and super-rich in Rothbard’s world will simply have a licence to commit crimes and bribe victims to stop prosecution.
So, as I noted in the last post, Rothbardian “justice” would be a mockery of that term, a travesty of any effective and impartial legal system.
Rothbard, M. N. 2011. Economic Controversies. Ludwig von Mises Institute, Auburn, Ala.