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Evidentiary Arbitrage: The Fabrication of Evidence and the Verifiability of Contract Performance


  • George Triantis


The design of legal obligations, whether by a public body such as a legislature or by private contract, should anticipate the enforcement process that induces compliance. Judicial enforcement is costly and imperfect, largely because of limits on the court's ability to detect facts accurately. In adversarial litigation, courts are often fooled by fabricated, suppressed, or otherwise manipulated evidence. Given that fabricated evidence is both more costly and less valuable than truthful evidence, one would think that contracting parties should design their agreement so as to deter future evidence fabrication. To the contrary, this article suggests that evidence fabrication may be harnessed by contracting parties to improve the (evidentiary) cost-efficiency of performance incentives in their relationship. This paper thereby addresses the concept of verifiability in contract theory, the puzzling tolerance of the adjudicatory system for fabrication, and the incentives to fabricate created by thresholds in burdens of proof. The Author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Yale University. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email:, Oxford University Press.

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  • George Triantis, 2008. "Evidentiary Arbitrage: The Fabrication of Evidence and the Verifiability of Contract Performance," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 72-94, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:24:y:2008:i:1:p:72-94

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    Cited by:

    1. Che, Yeon-Koo & Severinov, Sergei, 2015. "Legal Advice and Evidence with Bayesian and non-Bayesian Adjudicators," working papers sergei_severinov-2015-24, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 31 Dec 2015.
    2. Liu, Zhiyong & Avraham, Ronen, 2012. "Ex ante versus ex post expectation damages," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 339-355.
    3. Albert Choi & George Triantis, 2008. "Completing Contracts in the Shadow of Costly Verification," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(2), pages 503-534, June.
    4. Ian A. MacKenzie, 2014. "Precaution with endogenous litigation choices," Discussion Papers Series 535, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    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, January.
    6. repec:aea:aejmic:v:9:y:2017:i:2:p:188-225 is not listed on IDEAS

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