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Prepondeance of the Evidence: Tort Rules and the Efficient Standard of Proof

This paper analyzes the cost and incentive properties of the standard of proof for a finding of negligence. In common law, the usual standard is for courts to decide on the basis of a so-called balance of probabilities or preponderance of the evidence. We show that, if producing information about defendants' behavior is socially costly, preponderance of the evidence is the only cost-and-incentive efficient standard of proof consistent with a negligence rule. Cet article analyse les propriétés d'efficience du standard ou degré de preuve requis pour un jugement en responsabilité civile. Dans la common law, le tribunal décide selon la balance des probabilités en fonction du principe de la prépondérance de la preuve. Nous montrons que, si la production d'information sur le comportement du défendeur est socialement coûteuse, ce standard de preuve est le seul qui soit efficace sur le plan coûts-incitations dans un contexte de reponsabilité pour faute.

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Paper provided by CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal in its series Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers with number 120.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cre:crefwp:120
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  1. Claude Fluet & Dominique Demougin, 2001. "Ranking of information systems in agency models: an integral condition," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 489-496.
  2. Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, 1992. "Accuracy in the Determination of Liability," NBER Working Papers 4203, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Sanchirico, Chris William, 1997. "The burden of proof in civil litigation: A simple model of mechanism design," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 431-447, September.
  4. Paul R. Milgrom & John Roberts, 1985. "Relying on the Information of Interested Parties," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 749, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  5. Fluet, Claude, 1999. "Régulation des risques et insolvabilité : le rôle de la responsabilité pour faute en information imparfaite," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 75(1), pages 379-399, mars-juin.
  6. Hay, Bruce L & Spier, Kathryn E, 1997. "Burdens of Proof in Civil Litigation: An Economic Perspective," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 413-31, June.
  7. Davis, Michael L, 1994. "The Value of Truth and the Optimal Standard of Proof in Legal Disputes," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(2), pages 343-59, October.
  8. Daniel L. Rubinfeld & David E.M. Sappington, 1987. "Efficient Awards and Standards of Proof in Judicial Proceedings," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(2), pages 308-315, Summer.
  9. Hyun Song Shin, 1998. "Adversarial and Inquisitorial Procedures in Arbitration," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(2), pages 378-405, Summer.
  10. Demougin, Dominique & Fluet, Claude, 2001. "Monitoring versus incentives," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(9), pages 1741-1764, October.
  11. Craswell, Richard & Calfee, John E, 1986. "Deterrence and Uncertain Legal Standards," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 2(2), pages 279-303, Fall.
  12. Shavell, S., 1986. "The judgment proof problem," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 45-58, June.
  13. Polinsky, A Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1989. "Legal Error, Litigation, and the Incentive to Obey the Law," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 99-108, Spring.
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