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Litigation and settlement under judicial agency

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  • Koçkesen, Levent
  • Usman, Murat

Abstract

We model the settlement of a legal dispute when the trial outcome depends on the behavior of a strategically motivated judge. A defendant, who is uninformed about the level of harm that he has caused, makes a take-it-or-leave-it offer to an informed plaintiff. If the parties cannot agree on a settlement and the case goes to trial, the judge decides how much effort to exert in discovering the actual damages. We show that, under very general assumptions, this model exhibits multiple equilibria. In some equilibria, the judge exerts less effort and more cases settle out of court, whereas in others the opposite occurs. We also show that the judge prefers the low effort equilibria with high settlement rate and argue that a “managerial judge” could easily steer the parties towards low effort equilibria. This may be deemed undesirable, since in low-effort equilibria, the terms of the settlement heavily favor the informed plaintiff, and this in turn induces over-investment in ex ante preventive care by the defendant.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal International Review of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 32 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 300-308

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Handle: RePEc:eee:irlaec:v:32:y:2012:i:3:p:300-308

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/irle

Related research

Keywords: Litigation; Settlement; Judicial agency; Managerial judges;

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References

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  14. Murat Usman, 2002. "Verifiability and Contract Enforcement: A Model with Judicial Moral Hazard," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(1), pages 67-94, April.
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  16. Shavell, Steven, 1999. "The level of litigation: private versus social optimality of suit and of settlement," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 99-115, March.
  17. Joel L. Schrag, 1999. "Managerial Judges: An Economic Analysis of the Judicial Management of Legal Discovery," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(2), pages 305-323, Summer.
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