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The Economist in Tort Litigation


  • Robert Thornton
  • John Ward


In recent decades, the involvement of economists as consultants and expert witnesses in civil tort actions has grown rapidly. In this article, the authors discuss the reasons for this phenomenon and the extent to conflicts of interest to arise in the practice of what is frequently called 'forensic economics.' They argue that, although conflict-of-interest pressures exist, the limited evidence does not indicate that unethical practices are rampant within the profession. Moreover, market correctives, judicial screening, codes of ethical behavior, and the dissemination of knowledge concerning proper forensic practice help to serve as (arguably imperfect) safeguards against unethical practice.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Thornton & John Ward, 1999. "The Economist in Tort Litigation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 101-112, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:13:y:1999:i:2:p:101-112 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.13.2.101

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Salop, Steven C, 1987. "Evaluating Uncertain Evidence with Sir Thomas Bayes: A Note for Teachers," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 155-159, Summer.
    2. James J. Heckman, 1998. "Detecting Discrimination," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 101-116, Spring.
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    Cited by:

    1. Winand Emons, 2005. "Perjury versus Truth Revelation: Quantity or Quality of Testimony," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 161(3), pages 392-392, September.
    2. Robert Cooter & Winand Emons, 2003. "Truth-Revealing Mechanisms for Courts," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 159(2), pages 259-259, June.
    3. Bruno S. Frey, 2000. "Was Bewirkt die Volkswirtschaftslehre?," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 1(1), pages 5-33, February.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • K13 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Tort Law and Product Liability; Forensic Economics
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General


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