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Although the disciplines of law and economics have always been intertwined from their earliest development, the level of intimacy between the two research fields has varied over the history of thought.

 Recently, Europe has witnessed an upsurge in interests to apply economic insights to regulatory matters and the drafting of law, as well as the companion to introduce an explicit understanding of law into aspects of economic decision making. Examples of this development are the rising levels of sophistication of economic analysis applied to competition policy, the redesign of bankruptcy laws, the discussions on EU harmonization of corporate law, and deregulation and privatization issues in sectors traditionally governed by states, such as energy and public transportation. In all these cases, economic and legal arguments interplay.

It is the objective of the Amsterdam Center for Law & Economics (ACLE) to promote high quality research into these and other issues at the interface of law and economics. On the one hand, the ACLE seeks to advance the understanding of economic processes by taking the constraints of a legal and regulatory nature which individual consumers, firms and other collectives face explicitly into account. On the other hand, the Center aspires to enhance the drafting and enforcement of law by inserting an understanding of individual economic decision making. The ACLE thus aims to explore the wealth of synergies that exists between these two fields, and to further enhance the cross-fertilization in both research and its applications, e.g. in public policy. In doing so the Center will build on the emerging existing academic developments in law and economics and the related fields of institutional economics and public choice theory.

The ACLE is an interdisciplinary institute founded by the Board of the University of Amsterdam in close cooperation with the School of Economics (FEB) and the Law School (FdR). Located in the heart of Amsterdam's old city, the ACLE presently associates around twenty fellows in law and economics, ranging from full professors to PhD students.