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Preponderance of Evidence

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This paper analyzes the incentive properties of the standard and burden of proof for a finding of negligence, when evidence about injurers' behavior is imperfect and rests with the parties. We show that the `preponderance of evidence' standard used in common law, together with ordinary exclusion rules defining legally admissible evidence, provides maximal incentives for potential tort-feasors to exert care. This holds even though, following the occurrence of harm, litigants have unequal access to evidence and may distort information in adversarial procedures. Abstracting from litigation costs, the optimal assignment of the burden of proof is shown to follow from the principle underlying the standard of proof. Our main results are derived in a mechanism design framework, but we also consider implementation as a sequential equilibrium with the court as a player in the game. Cet article analyse les propriétés incitatives du standard de preuve et de l'attribution de la charge de la preuve en responsabilité pour faute, lorsque l'information sur le comportement de l'auteur du dommage est imparfaite et relève des parties. Nous montrons que le standard de la « prépondérance de preuve » appliqué dans la common law, combiné aux règles d'exclusion définissant les faits admissibles en cour, fournit le maximum d'incitations à la prudence. Cette propriété est vérifiée même si, lorsque survient un dommage, les parties ont un accès inégal aux faits ou peuvent les présenter de manière partiale dans le cadre d'une procédure adversariale. Abstraction faite des coûts de litiges, l'attribution de la charge de la preuve s'explique également par le principe fondant le standard de preuve. Ces résultats sont obtenus comme propriétés d'un mécanisme optimal, mais nous analysons aussi la mise en oeuvre du mécanisme dans un équilibre séquentiel où le tribunal est modélisé comme un joueur.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal in its series Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers with number 150.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2002
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Handle: RePEc:cre:crefwp:150

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Keywords: negligence; tort rules; standard of proof; deterrence.;

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  1. Shin Hyun Song, 1994. "The Burden of Proof in a Game of Persuasion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 253-264, October.
  2. Schauer, Frederick & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1996. "On the Degree of Confidence for Adverse Decisions," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(1), pages 27-52, January.
  3. Robert Cooter & Winand Emons, 2000. "Truth-Revealing Mechanisms for Courts," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0211, Econometric Society.
  4. Paul Milgrom & John Roberts, 1986. "Relying on the Information of Interested Parties," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 18-32, Spring.
  5. Daniel L. Rubinfeld & David E.M. Sappington, 1987. "Efficient Awards and Standards of Proof in Judicial Proceedings," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(2), pages 308-315, Summer.
  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. Dominique Demougin & Claude Fluet, 2002. "Preponderance of Evidence," CIRANO Working Papers 2002s-61, CIRANO.
  8. Kaplow, Louis & Shavell, Steven, 1994. "Accuracy in the Determination of Liability," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(1), pages 1-15, April.
  9. Shavell, Steven, 1989. "Optimal sanctions and the incentive to provide evidence to legal tribunals," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 3-11, June.
  10. Antonio Bernardo & Eric L. Talley & Ivo Welch, 1999. "A Theory of Legal Presumptions," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm118, Yale School of Management.
  11. Song Shin, H, 1996. "Adversarial and Inquisitorial Procedures in Arbitration," Economics Papers 124, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  12. 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.
  13. Davis, Michael L, 1994. "The Value of Truth and the Optimal Standard of Proof in Legal Disputes," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(2), pages 343-59, October.
  14. Hay, Bruce L & Spier, Kathryn E, 1997. "Burdens of Proof in Civil Litigation: An Economic Perspective," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 413-31, June.
  15. Sanchirico, Chris William, 1997. "The burden of proof in civil litigation: A simple model of mechanism design," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 431-447, September.
  16. Shavell, S., 1986. "The judgment proof problem," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 45-58, June.
  17. Daniel J. Seidmann & Eyal Winter, 1997. "Strategic Information Transmission with Verifiable Messages," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(1), pages 163-170, January.
  18. Lewis, Tracy R. & Sappington, David E. M., 1999. "Using decoupling and deep pockets to mitigate judgment-proof problems1," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 275-293, June.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Craswell, Richard & Calfee, John E, 1986. "Deterrence and Uncertain Legal Standards," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 2(2), pages 279-303, Fall.
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