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Contracting in the Presence of Judicial Agency

Listed author(s):
  • Bond Philip

    ()

    (University of Pennsylvania)

Registered author(s):

    While a key function of contracts is to provide incentives, the incentives of judges to enforce the terms of a contract have rarely been examined. This paper develops a simple model of judicial agency in which judges are corrupt and can be bribed by contracting parties. Higher-powered contracts expose contracting parties to more frequent and more severe corruption, which in turn lessens the incentives actually provided by the contract. Consequently the model predicts that individuals will commonly refrain from writing high-powered contracts, even when such contracts would be valuable absent judicial agency. I show that similar implications can also be obtained by considering other forms of imperfection in contract enforcement, such as variable expenditures on legal representation. I use the model to develop implications for the optimal punishment of individuals who are extorted by corrupt judges, and to establish circumstances under which a right-of-appeal is optimal.

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    File URL: https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/bejte.2009.9.1/bejte.2009.9.1.1430/bejte.2009.9.1.1430.xml?format=INT
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    Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics.

    Volume (Year): 9 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 1 (November)
    Pages: 1-34

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    Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejtec:v:9:y:2009:i:1:n:36
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    1. John Mcmillan & Pablo Zoido, 2004. "How to Subvert Democracy: Montesinos in Peru," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(4), pages 69-92, Fall.
    2. Bernheim, B Douglas & Whinston, Michael D, 1998. "Incomplete Contracts and Strategic Ambiguity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 902-932, September.
    3. Fahad Khalil & Jacques Lawarrée & Sungho Yun, 2007. "Bribery vs. Extortion: Allowing the Lesser of two Evils," CESifo Working Paper Series 1993, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Edward L. Glaeser & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "Legal Origins," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1193-1229.
    5. Chris William Sanchirico, 2008. "A Primary-Activity Approach to Proof Burdens," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(1), pages 273-313, 01.
    6. Vai-Lam Mui, 1999. "Contracting in the Shadow of a Corrupt Court," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 155(2), pages 249-249, June.
    7. Milgrom, Paul R, 1988. "Employment Contracts, Influence Activities, and Efficient Organization Design," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(1), pages 42-60, February.
    8. Richard T. Boylan, 2005. "What Do Prosecutors Maximize? Evidence from the Careers of U.S. Attorneys," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 379-402.
    9. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817, April.
    10. Arun S. Malik, 1990. "Avoidance, Screening and Optimum Enforcement," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(3), pages 341-353, Autumn.
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