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Strategic Judgment Proofing

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  • Che, Yeon-Koo
  • Spier, Kathryn

Abstract

A liquidity-constrained entrepreneur needs to raise capital to finance a business activity that may cause injuries to third parties --- the tort victims. Taking the level of borrowing as fixed, the entrepreneur finances the activity with senior (secured) debt in order to shield assets from the tort victims in bankruptcy. Interestingly, senior debt serves the interests of society more broadly: it creates better incentives for the entrepreneur to take precautions than either junior debt or outside equity. Unfortunately, the entrepreneur will raise a socially excessive amount of senior debt, reducing his incentives for care and generating wasteful spending. Giving tort victims priority over senior debtholders in bankruptcy prevents over-leveraging but leads to suboptimal incentives. Lender liability exacerbates the incentive problem even further. A Limited Seniority Rule, where the firm may issue senior debt up to an exogenous limit after which any further borrowing is treated as junior to the tort claim, dominates these alternatives. Shareholder liability, mandatory liability insurance and punitive damages are also discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Che, Yeon-Koo & Spier, Kathryn, 2006. "Strategic Judgment Proofing," MPRA Paper 6100, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:6100
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Mondello, Gérard, 2012. "La responsabilité environnementale des prêteurs : difficultés juridiques et ensemble des possibles," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 88(2), pages 257-278, Juin.
    2. Vasiliki Bageri & Yannis Katsoulacos & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2013. "The Distortive Effects of Antitrust Fines Based on Revenue," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 123(11), pages 545-557, November.
    3. Ichinose, Daisuke, 2011. "Contractor selection problem under extended liability," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 48-57, March.
    4. Juan José Ganuza & Fernando Gomez, 2011. "Soft Negligence Standards and the Strategic Choice of Firm Size," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 40(2), pages 439-466.
    5. Arbel, Yonathan A., 2016. "Shielding of assets and lending contracts," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 26-35.
    6. Ben White, 2015. "Do control rights determine the optimal extension of liability to investors? The case of environmental policy for mines," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 48(1), pages 26-52, August.

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    JEL classification:

    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General
    • G3 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance

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