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Optimal Discretion in the Application of Rules

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  • Steven Shavell
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    Abstract

    Discretion is examined as a feature of the design of rule-guided systems. That is, given that rules have to be administered by some group of persons, called adjudicators, and given that their goals may be different from society's (or a relevant organization's), when is it socially desirable to allocate discretionary authority to the adjudicators and, if so, to what extent? The answer reflects a tradeoff between the informational advantage of discretion—that adjudicators can act on information not included in rules—and the disadvantage of discretion—that decisions may deviate from the desirable because adjudicators' objectives are different from society's. The control of discretion through limitation of its scope, through decision-based payments to adjudicators, and through the appeals process, is also considered. Copyright 2007, Oxford University Press.

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/aler/ahm004
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal American Law and Economics Review.

    Volume (Year): 9 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 175-194

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    Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:9:y:2007:i:1:p:175-194

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    Cited by:
    1. Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli & Alessandro Riboni, 2008. "Statute Law or Case Law?," STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series /2008/528, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    2. Hadfield, Gillian K., 2011. "The dynamic quality of law: The role of judicial incentives and legal human capital in the adaptation of law," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 79(1-2), pages 80-94, June.
    3. Rousseau, Sandra & Telle, Kjetil, 2010. "On the existence of the optimal fine for environmental crime," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 329-337, December.
    4. Mialon, Hugo M. & Mialon, Sue H. & Stinchcombe, Maxwell B., 2012. "Torture in counterterrorism: Agency incentives and slippery slopes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 33-41.

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