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The Economics of US-style Contingent Fees and UK-style Conditional Fees

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  • Winand Emons
  • Nuno Garoupa

Abstract

Under contingent fees the attorney gets a share of the judgement; under conditional fees the lawyer gets an upscale premium if the case is won which is, however, unrelated to the adjudicated amount. We compare conditional and contingent fees in a principal-agent framework where the lawyer chooses unobservable effort after she has observed the amount at stake. Contingent fees provide better incentives than conditional fees independently of whether upfront payments are restricted to be non-negative or not. Under contingent fees the attorney uses her information about what is at stake more efficiently

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft in its series Diskussionsschriften with number dp0407.

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Date of creation: May 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ube:dpvwib:dp0407

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Keywords: contingent fees; conditional fees; moral hazard; incentives;

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References

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  1. Polinsky, A. Mitchell & Rubinfeld, Daniel L., 2002. "A note on settlements under the contingent fee method of compensating lawyers," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 217-225, August.
  2. Lynk, William J, 1990. "The Courts and the Market: An Economic Analysis of Contingent Fees in Class-Action Litigation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 247-60, January.
  3. Roland Kirstein & Neil Rickman, 2004. ""Third Party Contingency" Contracts in Settlement and Litigation," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 160(4), pages 555-, December.
  4. Shavell, Steven, 1997. "The Fundamental Divergence between the Private and the Social Motive to Use the Legal System," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 575-612, June.
  5. Miceli, Thomas J & Segerson, Kathleen, 1991. "Contingent Fees for Lawyers: The Impact on Litigation and Accident Prevention," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(2), pages 381-99, June.
  6. Alon Klement, 2004. "Incentive Structures for Class Action Lawyers," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(1), pages 102-124, April.
  7. Emons, Winand, 2004. "Conditional versus Contingent Fees," CEPR Discussion Papers 4532, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Hay, Bruce L, 1997. "Optimal Contingent Fees in a World of Settlement," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 259-78, January.
  9. Emons, Winand, 2000. "Expertise, contingent fees, and insufficient attorney effort," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 21-33, March.
  10. Rickman, Neil, 1994. "The Economics of Contingency Fees in Personal Injury Litigation," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(1), pages 34-50, Spring.
  11. Hay, Bruce L, 1996. "Contingent Fees and Agency Costs," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(2), pages 503-33, June.
  12. Santore, Rudy & Viard, Alan D, 2001. "Legal Fee Restrictions, Moral Hazard, and Attorney Rights," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 549-72, October.
  13. Miceli, Thomas J, 1994. "Do Contingent Fees Promote Excessive Litigation?," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(1), pages 211-24, January.
  14. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Daniel L. Rubinfeld, 2003. "Aligning the Interests of Lawyers and Clients," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 165-188.
  15. Dana, James D, Jr & Spier, Kathryn E, 1993. "Expertise and Contingent Fees: The Role of Asymmetric Information in Attorney Compensation," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(2), pages 349-67, October.
  16. Rickman, Neil, 1999. "Contingent fees and litigation settlement1," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 295-317, September.
  17. Halpern, P. J. & Turnbull, S. M., 1983. "Legal fees contracts and alternative cost rules: An economic analysis," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 3-26, June.
  18. Gravelle, Hugh & Waterson, Michael, 1993. "No Win, No Fee: Some Economics of Contingent Legal Fees," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(420), pages 1205-20, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Bertrand Chopard & Thomas Cortade & Eric Langlais, 2008. "Trial and settlement negotiations between asymmetrically skilled parties," EconomiX Working Papers 2008-32, University of Paris West - Nanterre la Défense, EconomiX.
  2. Emons, Winand, 2004. "Conditional versus Contingent Fees," CEPR Discussion Papers 4532, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Winand Emons, 2004. "Playing It Safe with Low Conditional Fees versus Being Insured by High Contingent Fees," Diskussionsschriften dp0419, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
  4. Deffains, Bruno & Langlais, Eric, 2007. "Informational externalities and informational sharing in class action suits," MPRA Paper 4846, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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