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Labour Disputes and the Game of Legal Representation


  • Henri Fraisse


This paper explores the prisoner’s dilemma that may result when workers and firms are involved in labour disputes and must decide whether to hire a lawyer to be represented at trial. Using a representative data set of labour disputes in the UK and a large population of French unfair dismissal cases, we find that a lawyer substantially increases the firm’s probability of winning at trial but has little effect on the worker’s victory probability. The UK data contain award and litigation costs and allow us to compute the pay-off matrix. We do not find evidence of a prisoner’s dilemma, given that the total pay-off for the worker is not significantly different whether she is represented or not. Surprisingly, the dominant strategy for the firm is not to be represented.

Suggested Citation

  • Henri Fraisse, 2010. "Labour Disputes and the Game of Legal Representation," CESifo Working Paper Series 3084, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3084

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    8. Cooter, Robert D & Rubinfeld, Daniel L, 1989. "Economic Analysis of Legal Disputes and Their Resolution," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 1067-1097, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Yu-Fu & Funke, Michael, 2010. "Global Warming And Extreme Events: Rethinking The Timing And Intensity Of Environmental Policy," SIRE Discussion Papers 2010-48, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    2. Goerke, Laszlo & Neugart, Michael, 2015. "Lobbying and dismissal dispute resolution systems," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 50-62.
    3. Henri Fraisse & Francis Kramarz & Corinne Prost, 2015. "Labor Disputes and Job Flows," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 68(5), pages 1043-1077, October.

    More about this item


    litigation; lawyers; labour dispute resolution; prisoner’s dilemma;

    JEL classification:

    • J52 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Dispute Resolution: Strikes, Arbitration, and Mediation
    • J53 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Labor-Management Relations; Industrial Jurisprudence
    • K41 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Litigation Process


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