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

  • Emons, Winand
  • Garoupa, Nuno

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 they have 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 their information about what is at stake more efficiently.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 4473.

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Date of creation: Jul 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4473
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  1. Emons, Winand, 2004. "Conditional versus Contingent Fees," CEPR Discussion Papers 4532, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. 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.
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  4. 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.
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  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. Kirstein, Roland & Rickman, Neil, 2002. ""Third Party Contingency" contracts in settlement and litigation," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt6vn9877z, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
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  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  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.
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  15. 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.
  16. Emons, Winand, 2000. "Expertise, contingent fees, and insufficient attorney effort," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 21-33, March.
  17. 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.
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