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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

Paper provided by CIRPEE in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 0202.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:0202

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Keywords: adjudication; contract; enforcement; rules of evidence; standard of proof; value of information.;

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  1. Demougin, Dominique & Fluet, Claude, 2006. "Preponderance of evidence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 963-976, May.
  2. Fluet, Claude, 1999. "Régulation des risques et insolvabilité : le rôle de la responsabilité pour faute en information imparfaite," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 75(1), pages 379-399, mars-juin.
  3. Lewis, Tracy R & Poitevin, Michel, 1997. "Disclosure of Information in Regulatory Proceedings," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(1), pages 50-73, April.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, 1992. "Accuracy in the Determination of Liability," NBER Working Papers 4203, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Dominique Demougin & Claude Fluet, 2004. "Deterrence vs Judicial Error: a Comparative View of Standards of Proof," Cahiers de recherche 0418, CIRPEE.
  3. 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.
  4. Dominique Demougin & Claude Fluet, 2008. "Rules of proof, courts, and incentives," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(1), pages 20-40.
  5. Fluet, Claude, 2010. "Liability rules under evidentiary uncertainty," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 1-9, March.

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