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Enforcing Contracts: Should Courts Seek the Truth?

  • Claude Fluet

I examine the case where fulfillment of a contractual commitment is only imperfectly verifiable and ask whether the court should then "tell the truth" regarding the action in dispute. I show that truth seeking does not maximize the expected surplus from contractual relationships. From the parties' viewpoint, the enforcer should disregard some of the available information and should sometimes rule in favor of one party, even though his understanding is that the other party is most probably right. The analysis provides a justification for rules of evidence in common law and for the use by courts of neutral normative priors regarding contending claims.

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File URL: http://www.cirpee.org/fileadmin/documents/Cahiers_2002/CIRPEE02-02.pdf
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Paper provided by CIRPEE in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 0202.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:0202
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  1. Dominique Demougin & Claude Fluet, 2002. "Preponderance of Evidence," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 150, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  2. Tracy Lewis & Michel Poitevin, 1995. "Disclosure of Information in Regulatory Proceedings," CIRANO Working Papers 95s-01, CIRANO.
  3. Kaplow, Louis & Shavell, Steven, 1994. "Accuracy in the Determination of Liability," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(1), pages 1-15, April.
  4. Froeb, Luke M & Kobayashi, Bruce H, 1996. "Naive, Biased, Yet Bayesian: Can Juries Interpret Selectively Produced Evidence?," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 257-76, April.
  5. 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.
  6. Paul Milgrom & John Roberts, 1986. "Relying on the Information of Interested Parties," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 18-32, Spring.
  7. Hylton, Keith N, 1990. "Costly Litigation and Legal Error under Negligence," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 433-52, Fall.
  8. Claude Fluet, 1998. "Régulation des risques et insolvabilité: le rôle de la responsabilité pour faute en information imparfaite," Cahiers de recherche du Département des sciences économiques, UQAM 9802, Université du Québec à Montréal, Département des sciences économiques.
  9. Daughety, Andrew F & Reinganum, Jennifer F, 2000. "On the Economics of Trials: Adversarial Process, Evidence, and Equilibrium Bias," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 365-94, October.
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