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Enforcing Contracts: Should Courts Seek the Truth?

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  • Claude Fluet

Abstract

I examine the case where fulfillment of a contractual commitment is only imperfectly verifiable and ask whether the court should then tell the truth regarding the action in dispute. I show that truth seeking does not maximize the expected surplus from contractual relationships. From the parties' viewpoint, the enforcer should disregard some of the available information and should sometimes rule in favor of one party, even though his understanding is that the other party is most probably right. The analysis provides a justification for rules of evidence in common law and for the use by courts of neutral normative priors regarding contending claims.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen in its journal Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics.

Volume (Year): 159 (2003)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 49-

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Handle: RePEc:mhr:jinste:urn:sici:0932-4569(200303)159:1_49:ecscst_2.0.tx_2-l

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References

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  1. Claude Fluet, 1998. "Régulation des risques et insolvabilité: le rôle de la responsabilité pour faute en information imparfaite," Cahiers de recherche du Département des sciences économiques, UQAM 9802, Université du Québec à Montréal, Département des sciences économiques.
  2. Lewis, T. & Poitevin, M., 1994. "Disclosure of Information in regulatory Proceedings," Cahiers de recherche 9414, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  3. Dominique Demougin & Claude Fluet, 2002. "Preponderance of Evidence," CIRANO Working Papers 2002s-61, CIRANO.
  4. Daughety, Andrew F & Reinganum, Jennifer F, 2000. "On the Economics of Trials: Adversarial Process, Evidence, and Equilibrium Bias," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 365-94, October.
  5. Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, 1994. "Accuracy in the Determination of Liability," NBER Working Papers 4203, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Polinsky, A Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1989. "Legal Error, Litigation, and the Incentive to Obey the Law," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 99-108, Spring.
  7. Froeb, Luke M & Kobayashi, Bruce H, 1996. "Naive, Biased, Yet Bayesian: Can Juries Interpret Selectively Produced Evidence?," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 257-76, April.
  8. Hylton, Keith N, 1990. "Costly Litigation and Legal Error under Negligence," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 433-52, Fall.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Dominique Demougin & Claude Fluet, 2004. "Deterrence vs Judicial Error: A Comparative View of Standards of Proof," CIRANO Working Papers 2004s-38, CIRANO.
  2. Dominique Demougin & Claude Fluet, 2006. "Rules of Proof, Courts, and Incentives," Cahiers de recherche 0633, CIRPEE.
  3. Claude Fluet, 2006. "Liability Rules under Evidentiary Uncertainty," Cahiers de recherche 0606, CIRPEE.
  4. Cooter, Robert D. & Emons, Winand, 2000. "Truth-Bonding and Other Truth-Revealing Mechanisms for Courts," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt35j9s08h, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  5. Fares, M’hand, 2005. "Quels fondements à l’incomplétude des contrats?," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 81(3), pages 535-555, Septembre.

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