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Courts of Law and Unforeseen Contingencies

Author

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  • Luca Anderlini

    () (Department of Economics, Georgetown University)

  • Leonardo Felli

    () (Department of Economics, London School of Economics)

  • Andrew Postlewaite

    () (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

Abstract

We study a contracting model with unforeseen contingencies in which the court is an active player. Ex-ante, the contracting parties cannot include the risky unforeseen contingencies in the contract they draw up. Ex-post the court observes whether an unforeseen contingency occurred, and decides whether to void or uphold the contract. If the contract is voided by the court, the parties can renegotiate a new agreement ex-post. There are two effects of a court that voids more contracts. The parties’ incentives to undertake relationship-specific investment are reduced, while the parties enjoy greater insurance against the unforeseen contingencies which the ex-ante contract cannot take into account. In this context, we are able to characterize fully the optimal decision rule for the court. The behavior of the optimal court is determined by the tradeoff between the need for incentives and the gains from insurance that voiding in some circumstances offers to the agents.

Suggested Citation

  • Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli & Andrew Postlewaite, 2001. "Courts of Law and Unforeseen Contingencies," PIER Working Paper Archive 06-001, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Jan 2006.
  • Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:06-001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Nabil I. Al-Najjar & Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli, 2006. "Undescribable Events," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(4), pages 849-868.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Nabil Al-Najjar & Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli, 2003. "Undescribable Contingencies," Discussion Papers 1370, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    2. Buzard, Kristy & Watson, Joel, 2012. "Contract, renegotiation, and hold up: Results on the technology of trade and investment," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 7(2), May.
    3. Anderlini Luca & Felli Leonardo & Postlewaite Andrew, 2011. "Should Courts Always Enforce What Contracting Parties Write?," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 14-28, February.
    4. Steven Shavell, 2003. "On the Writing and the Interpretation of Contracts," NBER Working Papers 10094, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Dana Heller & Ran Spiegler, 2008. "Contradiction as a form of Contractual Incompleteness," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(530), pages 875-888, July.
    6. J. Luis Guasch & Jean-Jacques Laffont & Stephane Straub, 2003. "Renegotiation of Concession Contracts in Latin America," ESE Discussion Papers 103, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    7. Manuel Willington, 2013. "Hold Up Under Costly Litigation and Imperfect Courts of Law," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(5), pages 1023-1055, October.
    8. Buzard, Kristy & Watson, Joel, 2012. "Contract, renegotiation, and hold up: Results on the technology of trade and investment," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 7(2), May.
    9. Shurojit Chatterji & Dragan Filipovich, 2004. "Ambiguous Contracting: Natural Language and Judicial Interpretation," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 419, Econometric Society.
    10. Chiara D’Alpaos & Michele Moretto & Paola Valbonesi & Sergio Vergalli, 2013. "Time overruns as opportunistic behavior in public procurement," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 110(1), pages 25-43, September.
    11. Etienne Pfister & Bruno Deffains & Myriam Doriat-Duban & Stéphane Saussier, 2006. "Institutions and contracts: Franchising," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 53-78, January.
    12. Yaron Leitner, 2005. "Legal uncertainty and contractual innovation," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Q2, pages 26-32.
    13. Nabil I. Al-Najjar & Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli, 2006. "Undescribable Events," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(4), pages 849-868.
    14. Chiara D'Alpaos & Michele Moretto & Paola Valbonesi & Sergio Vergalli, 2009. "It is never too late: Optimal penalty for investment delay in public procurement contracts," Working Papers 0907, University of Brescia, Department of Economics.
    15. Guilherme Lichand & Rodrigo R. Soares, 2014. "Access to Justice and Entrepreneurship: Evidence from Brazil's Special Civil Tribunals," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(2), pages 459-499.
    16. Joel Watson, 2007. "Contract, Mechanism Design, and Technological Detail," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 55-81, January.
    17. Alan Schwartz, 2004. "The Law and Economics of Costly Contracting," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(1), pages 2-31, April.
    18. Chiara D'Alpaos & Michele Moretto & Paola Valbonesi, 2008. "Optimal penalty for investment delay in public procurement contracts," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0074, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
    19. Jorge Montesinos & Eduardo Saavedra, 2012. "Algunos Alcances en torno a la Institucionalidad y Renegociación de Concesiones en la Infraestructura de Transporte de Uso Público en Perú," ILADES-Georgetown University Working Papers inv277, Ilades-Georgetown University, Universidad Alberto Hurtado/School of Economics and Bussines.
    20. Legros, Patrick & Newman, Andrew F., 2002. "Courts, contracts, and interference," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 734-744, May.
    21. Giovanni Maggi & Robert W. Staiger, 2008. "On the Role and Design of Dispute Settlement Procedures in International Trade Agreements," NBER Working Papers 14067, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Mitchell Berlin & Yaron Leitner, 2005. "Courts and contractual innovation: a preliminary analysis," Working Papers 05-27, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, revised 01 Dec 2005.
    23. M'hand Fares, 2009. "Specific Performance, Separability Condition and the Hold-Up Problem," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 29(3), pages 2055-2062.
    24. Alan Schwartz & Joel Watson, "undated". "The Law and Economics of Costly Contracting," Yale Law School John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy Working Paper Series yale_lepp-1004, Yale Law School John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy.
    25. World Bank, 2009. "Good Governance in Public-Private Partnerships : A Resource Guide for Practitioners," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12665, The World Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Courts of Law; Unforeseen Contingencies; Precedents; Incentives; Insurance;

    JEL classification:

    • C79 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Other
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • D89 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Other
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation

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