Judicial Detection Skill, Litigational Opportunism, and Contractual Compliance
Mutually beneficial agreements might fail if the parties fear contractual opportunism. Litigation is supposed to prevent this, but still leaves room for litigational opportunism: Even knowing that the opponent has fulfilled his obligations, a party might bring suit. We show that with positive judicial detection skill, litigation fees can be designed to deter opportunistic suits and simultaneously induce bilateral contractual compliance. With zero detection skill, as implicitly assumed by most of the economic literature on litigation, bilateral contractual compliance cannot be induced. We apply our results to evaluate the American and the British cost allocation rules.
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